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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 30, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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stronger. it will make us fairer as a nation. and, mr. president, i urge that we come together and put aside whatever the labels and the rhetoric and nomenclature are that we call them and do the right thing to make our nation stronger and fairer. thank you, mr. president. and i note the absence of a quorum. quorum quorum call: quorum call: mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i withdraw my request for a quorum and i yield to the senator from california. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, which the
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clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, central intelligence agency, david h. petraeus of new hampshire to be director of the central intelligence agency. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be two hours for debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form. the senior senator from california is recognized. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. i come to the floor as the chairman of the collect committee on intelligence to speak about the nomination of general david petraeus to become the director of the c.i.a. i want to thank the majority leader for bringing this nomination to the floor in such a quick fashion because the committee earlier this week, tuesday, unanimously approved the nomination of general petraeus. i think that there is no doubt but that general petraeus is among the finest military officers and strategic thinkers
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of his generation. we are very lucky to have his service. he wrote the army's counterinsurgency strategy and then applied it in iraq, securing a military victory from what had appeared to be a descent into chaos and violence. one year ago to this day, the senate confirmed general petraeus to replace general stanley mcchrystal as the leader of american and international security assistance forces in afghanistan. since then, he has shifted the strategy, implemented the troop surge, kept our coalition together, and today military and intelligence analysts point to gains in the security situation and in the afghan military and police's ability to secure their nation. general petraeus' willingness to take on the afghanistan mission also demonstrates his extraordinary commitment to
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public service. at the time, he was serving in tampa, florida, as a combatant commander for central command. no longer directly in charge of the war zone but with the responsibility for not just afghanistan but for 19 other countries as well. he agreed to what was a step down in the military -- quote -- org chart, end quote, to take on the hard errs military challenge in the world and to deploy from tampa to kabul. the nation certainly owes general petraeus a debt of gratitude for 37 years in uniform, but when he is confirmed, general petraeus will be taking off the uniform to become director petraeus. he has clearly considered the differences in culture and mission between the c.i.a. and the military, and now he will shift his style to lead intelligence collectors and
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analysts rather than officers and enlisted troops. as a matter of fact, in our hearing, in hart 216, there was a bit of levity when he was asked the question about how he would transition from a four-star major american general to a civilian role as director of the c.i.a., and he said you can be sure that when i arrive at the c.i.a., i will arrive without an escort and just simply get out of my automobile and walk into the building. well, as we looked out in the audience and we saw a fay los -- phalanx of officers accompanying the general, it became quite clear indeed that it was a transition. i believe and this is the importance of this nominee, that general petraeus understands the difference and is prepared to move into a civilian organization at a difficult
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time. now, mr. president, of our 16 different intelligence agencies, one is generally and hopefully, although there have been seven military commanders in our history who have become head of the c.i.a., but generally directed by a civilian, and, of course, leon panetta is, in fact, a civilian. i think we have to consider the timing of this, the winddown of two wars, iraq and afghanistan, the operation in libya, a restive middle east where the changes in an arab spring are not yet felt, an israeli-palestinian situation that has to it crisis dimensions. the north korean situation with respect to the nuclear weaponry of that country. iran, a very dangerous country with the potential of becoming a
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nuclear country, and above all things, the fact that in september is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and where there is nonspecific intelligence that this country may well have a revenge attack. therefore, i think the military service will come in handy. i think his analytical skills and ability will come in very handy, and i really believe he's the right man for the job at this time. through the confirmation process, the intelligence committee has sought to understand general petraeus' vision for the c.i.a. and how he will lead it through the challenges that i have just mentioned. i believe he's answered these questions and laid out his views. he has testified that he had discussed this possible move to the c.i.a. with secretary gates as far back as last year.
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he even demonstrated that he knows the c.i.a. culture and the lingo, saying that right after being sworn in, he will call an all-hands meeting for all c.i.a. employees and -- quote -- "will tell them right up front that you all should know that i'm here to recruit you and i know you're here to recruit me." end quote. he has met with just about every c.i.a. former director and received their advice on running the agency, and he plans to put that advice into practice. general petraeus has written and testified that he fully appreciates that the mission of the c.i.a. is to provide unvarnished intelligence assessments to policymakers, whether they like it or not, and that is a fundamental point. the intelligence must stand on its own. it must be good intelligence, it must be streamlined intelligence, and it must be
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intelligence which has been subject to the best of analysis and red teaming. this was one of the questions that had been raised during his confirmation. would general petraeus put aside his military commanders' assessments and carry forth the agent's analytic view? he answered the question head on, pointing out that he has experience in the analytic field and in debating assessments to reach the best judgment possible. general petraeus specifically pointed to his academic background as well as his military commands. he, in fact, has earned -- and i don't think many people know this -- a master's of public administration and a ph.d. in international relations from princeton university's wilson -- woodrow wilson school of public and international affairs.
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he has served an assistant professor of international relations at the united states military academy at west point, from which he has graduated and as a fellow at georgetown university. so the culture and debate in the c.i.a.'s director of intelligence will not be new to general petraeus, and he understands the importance of presenting clear analytic views and analyses. while all members are familiar with general petraeus' recent positions, let me touch on some of his prior experience. prior to command in iraq, he served at fort leavenworth, kansas, during which time he oversaw the development of the army and marine corps' counterinsurgency manual. the importance of that manual is that it has stood the test of time since then.
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earlier in his career, he served in bosnia where he was the assistant chief of staff for operations of the nato stabilization force and the deputy commander of the united states counterterrorism task force in bosnia. prior to his tour in bosnia, he spent two years at fort bragg, north carolina, serving as the assistant division commander for operations of the 82nd airborne division and then as chief of staff of the airborne corps. in addition, he has served in a number of staff assignments. aide to the chief of staff of the army, military assistant to the supreme allied command europe, chief of operations of the united nations force in haiti, an executive assistant to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. not only is this a man who has been around, this is a man who has commanded, who understands
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the military and who has produced for the united states of america. from my meeting and discussions with him, his responses before, during and after are confirmation hearing and based on his remarkable background, i am absolutely confident that general petraeus will make an excellent director of the central intelligence agency. i hope his confirmation vote will be unanimous. that makes it a real mandate. mr. president, while we are here to consider the nomination of david petraeus, i would also like to note and recognize some other people. first and foremost, defense secretary bob gates, a former director of central intelligence and the secretary of defense whose term ends today. secretary gates has been a tremendously dedicated public servant throughout his career but nevermore needed and
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appreciated than his last four and a half years as secretary of defense. he has presided over the wars in iraq and afghanistan. he has managed the largest organization in the world at the pentagon. he has earned the complete trust and respect of both president bush and president obama and of every single member of this body. that almost makes him an endangered species. he is the model of the professional government official and his leadership and his character is truly an example to us all. i wish him well as he goes back to the state of washington and candidly on a personal level i will never forget his service to our country. next today is leon panetta's last day as director of the c.i.a. i was very proud to be able to introduce director panetta as a native californian at his
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confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense earlier this month, and i really can't say enough about the job he has done and my appreciation for the relationship we have had over the past two years. i think it's well known that when this first cropped up that he might be considered for c.i.a. director, i really thought that the service could be best served by someone with c.i.a. experience. i can say here i couldn't have been more wrong. director panetta has stepped in when the senate has had a hard time finding agreement and really put together a note of confidence in this body that is unsurpassed, and i believe that's true at the agency as well. he has raised morale, he understands the priorities, he has set the priorities, and he
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was eminently prepared to be the commanding officer in the takedown of osama bin laden. this indeed makes his service both unique and very special. i hope and expect that the vote on general petraeus will be overwhelming. it speaks of the president's choices of such qualified and respected nominees and of their willingness to continue service. quickly, i'd also like to recognize the person who will be as of tomorrow the acting director of the c.i.a., michael morrell. now, i notice that the vice chairman, the distinguished saxby chambliss, is on the floor, vice chairman of our committee, and i believe that both of us feel that mike morrell has given our intelligence committee nothing but the unvarnished truth. he has come in, he has been prepared to answer questions, he
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has brought facts, he is an articulate, strong briefer. he knows the agency, and i believe he is going to lead the agency until the beginning of september when general petraeus completes his tour in kabul in july, and then there will be a transition period as he returns home and resigns his commission. in the interim, mike morell will be in chancht i think we both believe that the agency will be well-served by his service as acting director. finally, i want to thank mrs. who willy petraeus, the wife of david petraeus, and the insistent director of consumer financial protection bureau responsible for the office of service member affairs. general petraeus mentioned at his hearing that holly had been with him for 37 years and 23
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moves, and we thank her for continuing to share her husband with our country. madam president, you and i both know how difficult it is when we have a spouse somewhere else, let alone having a spouse somewhere in great jeopardy, in wartime america, in countries at which we are waging war year after year after year. she, indeed, is a very special woman, and i think the general is very lucky to have her as his spouse. in the position of director of the c.i.a., he will carry out one of the most important posts in our government. the director is a senior member of the president's national security team and provides candid and objective analysis on every single national security issue that this nation faces but the director is also in charge
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of class destine and covert operations around the globe. it is one of the reasons why our oversight responsibility is so important in these areas. to see that the law is followed and to see that missions are carried out with the full oversight of our committee. he is responsible for the security of the people of his agency and for making sure that their efforts are in keeping, as i said, with the nation's laws and ethics. it is yo a unique and difficult combination of management, of intellect, and, most importantly, of character because things can go awry and one can elect not to follow the law. and i believe that that will not be the case with general petraeus, and i believe he will follow the law, and he will do as excellent job. so i fully 100% absolutely
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support his confirmation, and i'm very pleased to yield the floor to the distinguished vice-chairman of the committee, senator -- the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: mr. presiden madm president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: madam president, first of all, let me thank and commend the chairman of the select committee on intelligence for her great work, not o only on this issue but on every other issue that we have had the opportunity to work on together over the past six months. she has been number one, has reached out to me and my staff every day, to make sure that we are doing the intelligence work in the way that we both agree it ought to be done. and she's done a magnificent job of leading the committee. the om nation of david patraeus -- the nomination of david patraeus is a classic example of how she has led our committee. thais, that we need a very smooh
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and quick transition when this comes to the leadership of the intelligence committee. and what chairman feinstein did was, as soon as the announcement was made on director p panetta's nomination for secretary of defense, she made sure all the background work was done so that we could schedule a hearing well in advance of the movement by director panetta to office of secretary of defense and preparing for the confirmation of director -- excuse me, general petraeus to be the next director of the c.i.a. theals not always easy -- that's not always easy. but she made sure it got done. and i want to commend, too, the majority staff director, david granise, as well as the minority staff director for their work in doing the background that needed
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to be done to move this nomination very quickly. it is a pleasure to work with chairman feinstein. she has the best interest of america and americans at heart from an intelligence standpoint. and she's doing a terrific job and it is a pleasure to work with her. mrs. feinstein: thank you. mr. chambliss: i rise also to speak in favor of the nomination of general david patraeus to be the next director of the central intelligence agency. general petraeus has had an exemplary military career and i look forward to his confirmation ages the agency's 22nd director. i, too, would like to acknowledge his wife for her service and support. in addition to supporting a military family during a number of long and unprecedented deployments and 25 moves, holly petraeus has also worked to protect military families from predatory lending practices. i appreciate her long-standing commitment and support of her men and women in uniform and want to thank her for joining her husband in answering our nation's call of duty. the strain on a military family
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just can't be overstated, and holly petraeus is certainly an individual who exemplifies everything that's good about how a military family needs to support the military member, and i truly commend her for her great service to our country in that respect. the nomination of david patraeus comes at a pivotal moment in our history as we face threats from across the globe. as a war fighter, he brings a unique perspective, having seen first hand the tactical value of accurate and timely intelligence. this experience in an era of unparalleled exoorptio cooptionn the central intelligence agency and the department of defense will not only benefit the military and intelligence community but also the american people. he graduated from west point in 1974, but he has spent the better part of the last decade on the battlefields of iraq and afghanistan.
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no matter what the task, david patraeus has always answered this country's call. most recently, after turning around the war in iraq, and putting us on a path to success, he left his position as commander of u.s. central command, where he was again called upon for on expected deployment to afghanistan. general petraeus understood the importance of the mission and accepted the assignment with vigor. and after leading the surge in afghanistan, many expected him to retire from the military and public service, but not petraeus traivmen-- butnot david patraeu. as the director of the c.i.a., general petraeus will face a number of critical challenges, many of which can't be anticipated. however, without a doubt, the threat from terrorism will reasonablremain the focal pointe c.i.a. and for the new director. the successful strike on bin laden removed al qaeda's leader but not the threat from
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terrorism. the al qaeda corps has been weakened but their violence continues to spread through other like-minded radicals. general petraeus understands these threats, and i look forward to wor working with himo make sure the nation remains vigilant through these very uncertain times. i recall very vividly my first encounter with david patraeus. it was in iraq when he was in charge of the training of the iraqi security police and the military personnel. and i remember standing on a rooftop outside of baghdad and observing an operation, a training mission that was going on where iraqi security police and military personnel were interacting and carrying out this training mission with u.s. military personnel, and just being around david patraeus that
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first day, you could sense that there was something special and something different about this great leader. the respect that he commanded from all of his subordinates and the respect that he showed to his superior officers was evident, and it was pretty obvious that there was something very unique about david patraeus. obviously, he has gone on to provide the right kind of leadership that america has grown to respect -- expect from our great military leaders and certainly david petraeus has exemplified the very best that the united states military has to offer. it's also important that we note, as chairman feinstein stated, that there are some other folks who are moving to different positions or leaving public service that have been so valuable to the intelligence community. i've had the privilege of working with secretary bob gates as a member of the armed
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services committee on a fairly regular basis. and secretary gates would be the first one to tell you, he and i haven't always agreed on everything, and that's part of what makes this institution work so well and what makes our country such a great country. but what a professional individual he is. and he has provided the exact kind of service, as secretary of defense, that has been needed during his years at the pentagon, which have not been easy years. these have been very difficult years to move through the iraq situation, surge into afghanistan, as well as to deal with all of the other myriad issues from personnel to health care to weapons systems that the secretary of defense has to deal with on a daily basis. i just admire and respect bob gates so much, and obviously we certainly wish him the best in the private sector. leon panetta moving from the c.i.a. to the office of
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secretary of defense is a natural. as i have stated on this floor previously, i miss him -- i will miss him as the director because i think he's done such an exemplary job. he came in without a lot of the experience from an intel standpoint that some folks thought that the director should have. but having worked with leon panetta when he was chief of staff to president clinton, having worked with minimum as director of o.m.b. under president clinton, i knew what kind of man he is, and i knew that leon would adapt very quickly, and that is exactly what is has happened. he rolled his sleeves up and went to wonch he has traveled around the world meeting not only with leaders of other nations but he always makes sure that he goes down and visits not just the station chief in the countries where he's visiting but the personnel that really
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are out there putting their life on the line every day to try to protect america and americans. and he has certainly gained the respect of every individual at the c.i.a. as well as members of this body, and not only has he gained respect, but the morale at the c.i.a. today is probably the highest it's been since i have ever been involved over the last decade with the c.i.a. i think he's done just a magnificent job, and he is a going to do likewise as the secretary of defense. the chairman is right, mike morell stepping in for the next couple of months will allow us to have a very seamless transition during the interim because mike is such a gifted professional, and he appears before the committee on a regular basis, and he does provide the direct, unfiltered, raw kind of information that we need to hear. and he is a great, great individual. he's been a great leader, as the number-two person at the c.i.a.,
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where he will continue to serve. and during the interim, he's going to continue that kind of leadership that we, again, have grown to expect from the director of the central intelligence agency. so i'm very pleased that mike morel slvment in the position that he is at this point in time so that we'll continue to have the right kind of leadership at the easmght agency. awith that, madam president, let me just say that we had a unanimous vote out of the committee on the nomination of confirmation of david patraeus, and i, like the chairman, hope that we have a very outstanding, unanimous vote today for general petraeus to be confirmed as the next director of the c.i.a. with that, i would yield the floor. mrs. feinstein: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you, madam president. ipt i would like to thank the -- i would like to thank the vice-chairman for his remarks. and i'd like to thank him also for his willingness to work as a bipartisan team, which he said
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we have done. i think the dividends have been great for our committee in that we've been able to get an authorization bill passed, we've been able to affect some changes, we have been able to work together, our staffs work together, and in particular i'd like to thank david granise and i'd like to thank martha scott for her work in this regard. i think it is extraordinarily important that americans know that there is -- in the senate of the united states -- a team of oversight that is in fact working together on a true bipartisan basis. so, mr. vice children, thank you so much for that and for -- its a been wonderful for me and particularly for our friendship as well. so thank you. and i yield the floor, and i note the republican whip on the floor. mr. kyl: thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you, madam president. first let me acknowledge two of the great leaders of the senate have just made very ringing endorsements of general petraeus to head the c.i.a., which we
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will be voting on in about an hour and a half, and i associate myself fully with their remarks, because they are in such a good position to know, as chairman and ranking member respectively of the intelligence committee, i think my colleagues will defer to their judgment about this but, more than that, most of us have gotten to know general petraeus because he has been so involved in so many of the important policy disilingsz of decisions of this country that we've all been able to form our own judgments and reach the same conclusions that the chairman and the ranking member of the committee have articulated so well just now. i'm glad to associate myself with their remarks. madam president, noting that no one else is on the floor to speak further about this nomination, i would ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you, madam president. we are going to be foregoing a july fourth break to go back home to visit with our
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constituents in order to stay here ostensibly to work on the problem of the accumulating budget deficit and huge debt that the united states has taken on and the need to do something about that in conjunction with the president's request that we raise the national debt ceiling. what i'd like to briefly address today is what seems to me to be an obsession on the part of the president to raise taxes. in fact, he is so fixed on this, it is so important to him to raise taxes that he's willing to risk an economic crisis, knowing that congress won't raise taxes as part of this debt ceiling increase. and we shouldn't. not because we're trying to protect somebody but because higher taxes on an already weak economy would just make things worse. now, we can point to a lot of things the president has done since he took office that have
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made things worse, but i don't know of a single economist who believes that american businesses will be more likely to hire people, will be more likely to create jobs if they are faced with paying higher taxes. they won't. everyone knows that. so when the president talks about raising taxes, he's talking about killing jobs. and i'd like to speak about the three specific taxes that he has talked about. i know because i was the senate republican delegate in the meetings with the vice president at which this was discussed. now, i'm not going to break the commitment that we all made to each other to discuss the things that the president has not already made public, so i won't discuss the many things the democrats took off the table. they talked about republicans taking things off the table. i think they have already made it clear that, for example, they took any changes in obamacare
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off the table. i won't get into that, and i won't discuss other things that were a part of our conversations, but since the administration spokesman and the president specifically yesterday has identified three of the things that they did put on the table and wanted to discuss with us, i feel that i might as well explain to you why we're not willing to raise these kinds of taxes, because they're all job-killing taxes. they would all inhibit growth, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. now, what are these job-killing tax increases on small businesses and american families and other businesses? it's not, first of all, just on millionaires and billionaires and corporate jets. president obama and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are obviously using poll-tested rhetoric here about only raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires and corporate jets because that
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sounds good, and they want ordinary americans to believe that they will not be affected by the president's tax increase proposals. but the truth is that the provisions they put forward during the debt limit meetings with vice president biden would target small businesses and other job creators and many americans who are far from being millionaires or billionaires. and i should mention right off the top here that they never discussed with us in these meetings anything having to do with corporate jets, so i haven't gone to look to see how many american workers are employed in the general aviation business. i noted that it was on a list that they gave to us, but they never checked. i suspect that that is more in the realm of political rhetoric since it doesn't even under their proposal i have seen raise very much money. but in any event, what had they actually discussed with us? well, the first thing they discussed was repealing something called lifo.
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now, lifo is a term last in first out that is used by accountants as one of the methods of inventory accounting. and for years, there has been a question should -- and more than a third of american businesses use this particular method of accounting. it's perfectly appropriate, legal and so on. there have been some talk should we have everybody use the same standardized method of accounting and there have been proposals to do that in the past. the problem is that what the obama administration wants to do is not just to conform everyone to the same type of accounting here but to actually go back and retroactively tax the businesses who have been using this accounting practice which is perfectly legal, totally recognized by the internal revenue service, nothing wrong with it, but they are going to go back and say because we are interested in raising revenue, we're going to put a retroactive tax on all of you who have been using this method of accounting.
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more interested in getting money than in tax fairness. and that's why we are opposed to this. it would represent a retroactive tax increase on the 36% of american businesses that use this perfectly legal method of accounting. now, who uses it? mostly it's people in the retail business and manufacturers. there are many who are small businesses, i might add, and to show you what the impact of this would be -- by the way, we first talked about creating jobs in the retail sector where consumers come in and buy things and in the manufacturing sector where they are made. these are the very folks who use this method of accounting, and here's the effect that it would have on small businesses. in september, 2009, the small business administration's office of advocacy -- this is under the obama administration -- wrote to the tax reform subcommittee of the president's own economic recovery advisory board that
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repealing lifo -- and i'm quoting here -- "would result in a tax increase for small businesses that could ultimately force many small businesses to close." why on earth would we impose a tax retroactively on folks who probably -- at least according to the president's own small business administration could ultimately -- would ultimately have to close their business as a result of the imposition of this tax. why would they do that? shouldn't that at least be taken into account before we propose something like this, or are you so obsessed with finding somebody to raise taxes on or getting revenue that it doesn't matter? with unemployment at 9.1%, we should not raise taxes on america's job creators. here's the second one that they discussed. camping itemized deductions. they proposed capping itemized deductions for upper income taxpayers either at the 28% or
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35% level. obviously, this reduces the ability of taxpayers to buy homes, to make gifts to charity, to pay medical expenses, all of the things for which deductions are taken. and as "the wall street journal" editorialized on june 29, and i'm quoting -- "the bill point of this exercise is to raise marginal tax rates without appearing to do so." end of quote, which is exactly what would happen. that editorial points out that president george h.w. bush agreed to a similar proposal as part of his 1990 budget agreement that broke his read my lips promise not to raise taxes. but the fact is that half of all small business income falls in the top two brackets so that the ability of small businesses to grow and create jobs would obviously be harmed by this proposal. the fact is that most high income taxpayers, individual taxpayers, already lose the benefit of tax deductions and
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credits at their income level because of what's called the alternative minimum tax. and we each year eliminate the effect of the alternative minimum tax except on those making, i believe it's above above $250,000. so the very people who would be capped here are already capped under the a.m.t. who would get hurt. well, we know that 50% of the taxes paid by small businesses are paid in these two upper brackets because they pay individually, and it is those folks that don't -- that can't take -- that would get hit by this because they have to take the deductions as part of their businesses. they would end up having their deductions capped and being unable, therefore, to invest that in hiring more people. moreover, the tax increase would hit a much larger segment of american families than just millionaires and billionaires. according to the internal revenue service, in 2008, the
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last year that we have numbers for, only 319,000 had tax returns showed incomes of a million dollars or more, but in that same year, the number of returns falling in the 33% and 35% brackets, which are the brackets most affected by this proposal, numbered more than 3.6 million. in other words, more than ten times the number of filers who would be hit if only millionaires and billionaires were affected. so while the president likes to claim that it only wants to tax millionaires and billionaires, the fact is that his proposal would hit small businesses and millions of americans who are not millionaires. but as i said, most importantly, it affects job creation because the people that would be hit by this, by the people who pay their -- small business entrepreneurs who pay their taxes under these provisions and would no longer be able to deduct their business job expenses. why? with economic growth at just
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1.9% in the last quarter would congress want to raise taxes on small businesses and on american families? it just doesn't make sense. and finally, oil and gas. always popular to talk about attacking big oil. of course, millions of americans and retired americans own stock in oil companies, and raising taxes would have the effect of both reducing what they get in their pensions and so on as well as undoubtedly resulting in higher gasoline prices because most of these kinds of taxes are passed right on through to the consumer. so they want to raise taxes on u.s.-based oil and gas companies. not foreign-owned companies. u.s.-based oil and gas companies. obviously, this tax could result in higher gas prices, which contradicts the reason for releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. why do that if it's going to get canceled out by imposing a new
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tax? it could obviously hurt job creation because this industry supports over 9.2 million american jobs. and it doesn't just target oil companies because they get some kind of special benefit. what these provisions do is eliminate a tax provision applicable to all businesses. any manufacturing business, for example, has the benefit of these particular three tax provisions. so why single out one particular group of taxpayers, only about five in number, who would no longer be able to take advantage of provisions that every other american business can take advantage of? they are broadly available to american businesses in one form or another, and they are three specific things. first, the so-called 199 deduction available to all manufacturers. second, u.s. businesses are
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generally able to prevent double taxation when they have to pay taxes abroad. those taxes are then credited against their american tax burden. and third, most businesses can expense their research and development costs. these are the three things that would be taken away just from oil companies, the folks who find american oil so that we can drive our cars and conduct our businesses. so raising the cost of producing american oil would help our foreign competitors make us more dependent on them, drive high-paying jobs offshore, increase our dependence on foreign oil, cause gas prices to rise and hurt american families already struggling with high food and energy costs. why would we want to do this except to demagogue a political issue because it sounds good to punish success? america has never been about punishing success. america has been all about creating opportunities. and this president's ideas of
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raising taxes as the agreement to achieve an increase in the debt ceiling as he has proposed would be absolutely contrary to what we're all trying to do right now, which is to help our economy get healthy so that it can create more jobs so we can reduce this tremendously high unemployment rate that we have right now, put americans back to work, help our families and ironically by getting healthier economically, making more money, producing more revenue for the federal government to tax under our existing taxes. so if we want economic growth, if we want improvement in the economy, the last thing we should be doing when you're economy is ailing now is imposing a higher tax burden on it. why the president is so obsessed with this, i do not know, but i will tell you one thing. republicans will resist these
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job-killing tax increases, not because we are trying to protect somebody, except the american people, but because we know that it's bad for our economy, for our families, for our small businesses -- our businesses and for job creation. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. and thank you, senator kyl, for his he will skpwaoefpbt on issues -- for his eloquent speech on issues of the day that are obviously very serious to the american people. mr. kyl: i ask unanimous consent to put into the record the article from the "wall street journal" to which i referred. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i'm here to speak today on a couple of issues. first, the asset forfeiture act of 2011, an act that i have
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filed and will speak upon in a moment. before i do, i want to just thank and ask to speak as if we're in morning business. i want to comment on secretary gates' last day. thank you. i was just over at the pentagon doing some work and noted that he was being honored there today. and i want to thank him for his dedication and service to our country. he leaves behind an incredible record of service. our military and his tpaeupls, while strained -- families, while strained have never been more prepared to fight and win in today's conflict. i've gained an enormous level of respect for his tireless leadership and committed resolve on behalf of our men and women in uniform and their families. so, mr. secretary, thank you for your incredible service to this nation, and you've made us all very, very proud. also, madam president, today one of our finest officers our nation has ever produced, general david petraeus, leaves behind a distinguished record of military service and moves on to
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a new job. the wealth of his experience and the experience he brings to this critical post will be invaluable as he and other dedicated public servants at the agency work to keep our nation safe from harm. i have the utmost faith in his leadership and look forward to the contributions he will make to the agency and to our country. now, madam president, getting back to what i was here to speak with you about, and others, i rise to speak about overregulation, something that's really putting a wet blanket on many businesses throughout our country and especially in massachusetts. and that's why i'm introducing a bill to reform the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, or noaa's asset forfeiture fund. the fund is authorized by the magnuson fisheries conservation act and allows noaa to retain fines and penalties for
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legitimate enforcement purposes. and as the department of commerce inspector general's excellent work revealed, noaa has mismanaged that fund for many years, wasting taxpayer funds on exorbitant foreign travel, unauthorized purchase of vehicles. as a matter of fact, they have more -- they purchase more vehicles than they actually have employees. so that speaks for itself. they also purchased a $300,000 luxury boat with the funds collected in that forfeiture fund. the reason i'm standing on the floor today is because the way the fund has been implemented has actually corrupted the relationship between the fishermen and the regulators. the fishermen have complained for years about the arbitrary fines, overzealous enforcement and violation of their due process rights when it comes to dealing with noaa. after decades of such complaints
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mostly in the northeast, the department of commerce appointed a distinguished retired judge to serve as a special master in investigate -- and investigate format actions and abuse by noaa. in one case, madam president, a new bedford, massachusetts, fisherman lost his livelihood and a farm that had been in the family since the 1640's, forced to sell it due to the punitive noaa penalties. the commerce department concluded the perverse incentive to fill the asset forfeiture fund with funds was the motivating factor in how noaa handled tkhaeus. a gentleman -- that case. a gentleman named larry lecuba got not only a check but apology from washington because of those abuses. he will never get his home back. my role as ranking member of the federal financial manager along with tom carper of delaware, we
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held a field hearing in boston on june 20 to identify a lot of these long-standing problems and identify the problems with the asset forfeiture fund itself. unfortunately, the hearing revealed that while noaa has instituted some reforms to its management of the fund, including auditing the fund for the first time in nearly four decades, it still intends to utilize the seized assets of fishermen to pay for foreign travel, which i feel is completely inappropriate. the years of noaa's mismanagement and abuse of the asset forfeiture fund have bred mistrust among the fishermen and federal officials and can only be broken by removing the fund for noaa. it is for these reasons i'm introducing the asit forfeiture act of 2011 which will hopefully end a sad chapter of financial mismanagement by this agency and replacing the existing funds
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with a new fisheries investment fund and the funds will be kept at the treasury department for the benefit of regional counsels in noaa. the fund will be audited for the next few years. the fishing investment fund will direct moneys from those fishermen who break the rules towards assisting fishermen with the ever-growing cost of regulatory compliance and to reimburse the legal fees incurred by fishermen whose fines were actually remitted by the recommendation of the special master. currently appropriated funds assist fishermen with the cost of compliance, but in these difficult fiscal times, this funding is actually at risk. so, madam president, this legislation would allow a more reliable source of funds to offset the increasing cost of compliance while allowing the fishing councils to have the flexibility to actually address other priorities such as preparing fishing impact statements and addressing other priorities to rebuild or
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maintain the fisheries and the fishing stocks. as i have always said since i got elected and involved in this issue, all the fishermen want is to have a level playing field and the assurances that those who break the rules will be caught. and they'll be fined and fined appropriately. that's why i have maintained funding for noaa's legitimate law enforcement responsibilities. however, in the end, madam president, we should be focused, quite frankly, in this chamber on bettering the economic security and ability of the american people to make an honest living. this bill will bring back jobs to the hardworking men and women of the american fishing industry while restoring their trust in government. it's the right thing to do. and on a side note, madam president, i'm hopeful that we will continue to work together and try to get through a lot of these fiscal challenges that we have. i, for one, along with many
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others still look forward to finding common solutions to move our country forward and step back from that financial precipice we're approaching. so i want to thank you, madam president, and i do note the absence of a quorum. i ask unanimous consent that time during the quorum call be charged equally to both sides. a senator: would the gentleman withhold that request of absence of a quorum? mr. brown: i'm sorry. didn't even see you there. i'm sorry. the presiding officer: is there objection to the senator's unanimous consent request? mr. cardin: i object only for purposes of keeping the quorum. i don't have to do it -- i withdraw my objection. the presiding officer: without objection, so moved. mr. cardin: thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you very much. i ask unanimous consent that i be able to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, i take this time to talk about the budget issues and the debt ceiling that is fastly approaching. it is a very serious issue. it's a matter we need to deal with. i start by first saying
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continuing's important to know -- by saying continuing's important to know how we got here. we don't want to repeat the mistakes we made in the past. it was ten years ago we had not only a balanced budget, we had a budget that looked like we would pay off all of our privately held debt. i was part of the congress that moved us towards that balanced budget and surplus. it was the democrats who were prepared to do what was necessary tpo balance the federal budget in the 1990's, and we got there. we didn't have a single vote from a republican, but we balanced the budget. we did it; it was not easy, but it was the right thing to do for our economy. as a result, our economy picked up and we did extremely well. we also know that the previous administration cut taxes twice from 2001 and 2003. we also went to war in iraq, a war that was one by choice. we also went to war in
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afghanistan. didn't pay for either one of those wars. it was these unpaid-for wars and these tax policies that led us from a surplus to a deficit. our economy then turned, and we now have these large deficits. i say that because we need to pay attention to how we got here to make sure that we have a credible plan to get us out of this deficit. i think it's very important that this country move towards a manageable debt. it's very important for our economy and for job growth that we manage our deficit and bring it down. so let me just give you what i think needs to be done in any plan that is presented to us for consideration. i think we all -- i hope we all agree that we need to raise the debt ceiling because that's after the fact. we've already spent the money, now we've got to pay the bills. but we also would like to see a plan to bring our deficit under control.
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to do that, we have to have a credible plan, one that really does bring us within the realm of a manageable deficit. secondly, it's got to be fair. i notice that my republican friends asked our children to give up some of their help in college education and they want to cut head start program and want our seniors to pay more in health care. but how about well-off? shouldn't they be part of the plan? i can we have to have -- i think we have to have a fair plan in order to accomplish our goals. third, we need to allow our nation to move forward with economic growth. jobs are critically important to dealing with the deficit. as we create more jobs, we help our economy grow. it brings our budget better into balance. so i'm for a credible plan. to me, a credible plan needs to get the job done, needs to be fair including all elements of government spending, including
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tax expenditures. and it has to allow for economic growth. so if we're to get the job done, madam president, we've got to bring down spending. we all acknowledge that. we've got to bring down spending on the domestic side and the national security side. we can do better in bringing our troops home from afghanistan and save military dollars. there's things that we can do to bring down spending, and we need to do that. but we also have to deal with the revenue side. and the revenue side, quite frankly, you can't get the job done without dealing with the tax loopholes and shelters that we have in the tax code. and i am concerned that the republican leader said we couldn't consider any revenue. well, i hope -- and i know i've heard from a lot of my republican colleagues that they disagree with that -- we need to include revenues in a credible plan. it can't get done, can't manage
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the deficit without closing those loopholes, without eliminating those shelters. yesterday, madam president, i talked about one of those shelters. i talked about the ethanol subsidy. it's about $3 billion we can save if we act fast enough. the ethanol subsidies are not needed. the market's there. we're damaging, it's hurting our economy. i have the honor of representing the people of maryland in the del marva peninsula. the poultry industry is suffering because of the ethanol policy of this country. it's costing them more to produce poultry, making the industry less competitive. we can save and create jobs by eliminating the ethanol subsidy which will help us in balancing the budget. but today i want to talk about another one of these tax shelters and loopholes that we could deal with, and that is the section 199 tax breaks that are used by the oil and gas industry.
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very interesting, madam president, we've seen gasoline prices rise. we've seen the negative impact of those gasoline prices on our economy. but guess who's benefited from the increase in the gasoline price stph-s you're right, it's the oil and gas industry. their profits are up as our economy has been suffering. in the first three months of this year, the gas and oil industries, the five largest companies, had profits, record profits of $35.8 billion. in the first three months of this year. section 199 subsidies these amount to $5 billion. we're projecting that profit by $4 billion of taxpayer contribution. it's not needed. these funds could be used to help reduce our deficit.
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the worst part about it is that the section 199 came about as a result of our foreign sales act. what was that about? we wanted to put american manufacturers and producers on a level playing field on international competition. we tried to do that with a direct subsidy to help export but the world trade organization held that to be illegal. then we came back with this general manufacturer's credit, section 199, to try to help our exporters. the gas and oil industry are not exporting a product. they should never have qualified for this $4 billion of taxpayer subsidy. i asked that question in the senate finance committee when we had the c.e.o.'s before us. not one could justify the fairness of this subsidy going to the oil and gas industry. their only answer was, well, everybody else is getting it.
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well, mr. president, we need to reduce unnecessary government spending, whether it's in the appropriations side or the tax expenditure side. in the oil and gas industry, this is $4 billion that can help us balance the budget. now, the minority leader says we can't even consider that. he said we can't consider any of the revenues. well, to me, it's -- it's not a fair proposal, not a credible proposal unless we tell our most wealthy and those companies that don't need the subsidies that they're going to be part of the plan to bring our budget into balance. there are many more provisions in the tax code that we can look at, that we can get the savings. i just mentioned two. you're going to have a credible plan that's going to allow us for economic growth, that will allow us to create jobs, and the best way to deal with the deficit is to create more jobs, then you have to have a fair
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approach. i would urge my colleagues that let's get together on this. look, mr. president, i understand it's not going to be the budget that the democrats want, but it's not going to be the budget that the house republicans want either. we have got to work together, democrats and republicans. i think we can find a common ground. earlier this year, i think 62 senators signed a letter saying let's use the framework of the debt commission. so i think there was that -- that -- that willingness. let's get back to that. let's get the democrats and republicans working together in true compromise. we don't have to compromise our principles. we can get the job done. and the job means let's get our debt in a manageable state. let's do it in a way that's fair to the -- so the well off also are part of the solution that includes revenues. let's do it in a way that allows america to do what president obama said, outeducate, out
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innovate and outbuild our competitors so that we can create the jobs that will not only help us balance our budget but will keep america's prosperity. that's our charge, that's what we need to do. let's get on with the work. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, before i start my remarks, i would like to say that in about an hour, we will start voting on the nomination of senator -- excuse me, general petraeus to lead the c.i.a. and i am going to enthusiastically support that nomination because i do think that general petraeus has shown the kind of military leadership that makes our country proud. he has come in at some of the hardest times, in both iraq and afghanistan. i have met with him in iraq to
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see exactly what he was doing, how he was implementing his counterinsurgency proposals, and i think he is a gifted leader. i also believe that in this war that we are in, the war against terrorists, the c.i.a. and the military have such a necessary link, and in many ways the -- they are codependent for the information, for the capabilities that each uniquely has. so i think that he will do the same great job that he has done in public service in a different arena but one that has become much more closely linked to the military for sure, and i will support his nomination. mr. president, today so many people have been talking about this debt ceiling issue, which should be what we're talking
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about, because we have perhaps as much as two months. we're not exactly clear when we're going to reach that over over $14 trillion debt ceiling, but this is the most serious issue facing congress and the president today, and we really shouldn't be doing anything else except talking about how we are going to bridge this gap that would allow us to go forward with significant reforms. i will not vote to raise the debt ceiling if there are not significant reforms that assure that we won't have to do it again, that we will begin to bring down the deficit that is causing this huge debt to accumulate, so i am looking for the leaders that are meeting in the different meetings and i'm privy to some of those, i think
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it is essential that we come to an agreement so that we send a message. people have talked about the message that would be sent to the world if the debt ceiling isn't lifted. i'm concerned about the debt ceiling message that would be sent if we do lift it without reforms. i want to send a message to the global marketplace that we are going to deal with our financial situation. we are going to deal with it responsibly. we are going to cut the spending that has caused this debt to accumulate to such alarming levels. and the message i want to send to the world is we're going to take this problem and we're going to solve it together. we're not going to just do another pro forma lifting of the debt ceiling as if it was business as usual. business as usual it is not. we don't have a tax problem in
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this country. we have a spending problem, and we must attack it if we are going to have credibility. so that brings me to a bill that i have introduced because i think it is important as we are looking at this looming deadline to have a plan b, that if, in fact, we are not going to be able to come to an agreement with both houses of congress and the president that would cut the spending levels sufficiently, that many of us would be comfortable enough to pass the debt limit lifting, if we don't meet that test, we should have a responsible plan b, plan that says if, in fact, we can't agree on what it will take to lift that debt ceiling, how are we going to treat the money that will be coming in?
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because at that point, our government will be limited in expenditures by the revenue that is coming in. now, we can allocate that revenue, and that's where i think we must have plan b. we must make sure that certain things are done. the number one thing that we all know is going to be paying the interest on the debt. that is our number one responsibility because that will keep us from going into default, which none of us want to do. the second thing right after that is to pay our military, the people who are dloid overseas in iraq, afghanistan and the places that are supportive of those efforts. we must assure that we are paying those people on time so that their families who are thousands of miles away in other parts of our country will know that they can pay the rent and
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they are not going to go into extremist positions. so i want to talk about a bill that i have introduced that has 80 cosponsors, and i want to ask unanimous consent to add senator heller from nevada to be a cosponsor of senate bill 724. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: senate bill 724 is the ensuring pay for our military act of 2011. there are 80 cosponsors of this legislation. it's very simple and straightforward. it ensures that in the event of a government shutdown, our nation's men and women in uniform would continue to receive their military pay and allowances. that's what it does. this legislation will protect all active duty men and women, including those in the coast guard and reserve components.
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i introduced this bill because we were in the process of having a meltdown last year with our appropriations. well, we need to have a bill on the books, a law on the book that assures that if there is a shutdown, whether it's on an appropriations issue or on a budget issue or on a debt ceiling issue, if our government is forced to shut down, where will the money go? where are the protections? i think our military should be front and center. i also think social security recipients should be front and center, but this bill is for the military because they are in harm's way as we speak many places across the globe, and we don't want to disrupt their families or have them worry for one minute about their families while they are doing their duty.
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these military families have faced stress from repeated deployments since 9/11. the last thing they should worry about is not receiving their paycheck on time because congress and the president have not been able to do the jobs that they need to do. immediately after -- after introducing this bill, i was contacted by a military spouse. her husband was on his tenth deployment in support of operations in the middle east. the spouse was at home raising their 1-year-old son. she was very concerned about whether she was going to be able to pay her bills. just multiply that story by thousands. we can only emergency the stress of families across our nation who have loved ones in harm's way. this should not be compounded by adding an unnecessary financial stress that is the fault of a congress that is unable to pass an appropriations bill or
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congress and the president unable to reach an agreement to cut our deficits so that the debt ceiling will not have to be raised again. at a time when our nation has 100,000 troops in afghanistan and more than 45,000 in iraq, it would be unconscionable that we would ask our troops to serve on the front lines without on-time pay. for my home state of texas, there are more than 28,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines currently deployed. this is second only to california in the highest number of deployed troops from one state. i would like to regular the soldiers especially from the 36th infantry division from the texas national guard. they are currently serving in the southern region of iraq and are doing a great job. these brave texans are working long hours in the extreme heat facing a dangerous enemy. the most remarkable aspect of
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their services that they all raise their hands to volunteer to do it. the very least we can do is pay them on time. it would be tremendously damaging for morale to tell our troops to go on long deployments, maybe multiple deployments away from their families and then not pay them at the normal time. i know that if there is one thing that this congress can agree on, it is our tremendous pride and support for the brave men and women in uniform. i think congress has shown that time and time again. we all learned a lesson from what happened in the vietnam war and after the vietnam war when the disagreement about the policies of the war were actually imputed to those people who were following orders to implement that war. we will never let that happen again. it hasn't happened since and it
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won't happen. we all in congress, there is not one who doesn't respect our military and the service they are giving. even if they disagree with the policies, which many often do. so i wasn't surprised when i introduced this bill to get 80 cosponsors immediately. mr. president, it's becoming clear that negotiations on a long-term deficit reduction plan may go down to the wire. the president said yesterday that he will insist on tax increases to pay for continued federal spending spree. republicans are clear, we must lower government spending to affordable levels and that there must be fundamental changes in how washington spends american taxpayer dollars. now is the time for congress to vote to assure that our troops will not miss a paycheck due to gridlock in washington. now, not at midnight on august 2 or august 6 or whenever we are
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adjourning for a -- hopefully a recess for people to get home and work in their districts. if the senate cancels its july fourth holiday recess, which is now on the books, i think it is time for us to spend that time on nothing else but this issue, long-term deficit reduction. we should start our work by making sure that we have plan b, that our troops and their families won't be political pawns in the struggle between raising taxes and cutting spending. if we are here, it should be for one purpose, one purpose only, and that is debt reduction and the preparation for what happens if that deadline passes, and there is not an agreement. and i can't think of a better way to say we are preparing for the worst while we're hoping for the best.
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and that is that we make sure that certain essentials are done. obviously, interest on the debt is our first obligation. the second one is to pay our military personnel who are overseas, who are deployed, and to make sure that they're not worrying about their families at home having the money to pay the mortgage and the bills that must be paid on time. so i hope that the senate will take this bill up, and i'm going to ask that we consider the ensuring pay for our military act of 2011 is on the agenda if we are in session next week. that seems to be what is in the works right now, and if that's the case, let's do something productive. and i can't think of something more productive and more reassuring to our military than to pass senate bill 724 with 80 cosponsors. if it comes to the floor, it's
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going to pass. it will go to the house and i assure you it will pass. so let's start that process, if we're going to be here next week, and a lot of plans are going to be disrupted. we're willing to do that but let's make it worthwhile by passing significant legislation, like ensuring that our military are paid on time. if for any reason we are looking at a government shutdown. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, while the senator from texas is still on the floor, i just want to say how personally this senator is going to miss her after the calendar year 2012, since she is retiring from the senate.
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and i say that with the utmost respect and affection for the senator from texas because, what a great partner she has been in setting policy for this nation's space program, and had it not been for the senator from texas, we would not have that policy etched into law in the nasa bill that we passed last year and which now is the skeletal structure that we hang all the appropriations on going forward, giving a clear path, a clear direction, a clear road map for our nation's space program. so i just wanted in front of the senate to thank the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, could i respond?
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i appreciate so much the words of the senator from florida because, of course, he is not mentioning the great leadership that he has portrayed. he is today the only member of the united states senate who has actually gon gone into space iss an astronaut, and his love for and zeal for our space exploration is really unsurpassed. and i appreciated working with him. it was our joint bill that passed last year that assures a way forward for nasa, that assures that there will be manned space exploration, that we will use the space station in which we have invested hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for not only health benefits for our country but also energy. the energy research that's being done right now i witnessed
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myself last week when i visited the nasa facility, the johnson center in houston, texas. and we are now getting the cosmic rays that are coming into the spectrometer that has just been put on the space station by commander mark kelley and his crew, and we are going to possibly learn the genesis of earth by this facility that was put in the space station and the research that's going to be done on dark matter and what happens when it meets matter. and it's really exciting, and i believe that the way forward that senator nelson and i have put on the path, i believe, is going to ensure that we have
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private-sector involvement, that there will eventually be probably a transition to the private sector, but in an orderly way so that we don't lose the expertise in which we have invested so much. and i hope later, before i leave, we'll get a chance to really talk about that, and i'm looking forward to going to the last launch of a space shuttle that america will put up. the systems that we have had will end probably after this last space launch that will happen in early july, and then we will be in the process of building the new vehicle, which we have put in place in the law to begin and to shorten the space between the time that we can put americans in space with our own vehicle, we're going to
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try to make that a shorter time frame by the law that we passed. so, mr. president, i thank the senator from florida and look forward to having more opportunities to talk about the importance of space exploration and america's preeminence in that field, and we'll do it. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. mr. nelson: and i want to, mr. president, thank the senator again. we stood shoulder to shoulder and we were able to get these two additional flights, of which the senator from texas just chronicled, that no sooner had mark kelley and his crew put the alpha magnetic spectrometer up on the space station, but it started collecting these cosmic rays. these are subatomic particles that are flying around in space that we tried to duplicate down here on earth by smashing atoms together in accelerators to
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understand subatomic particles, and we've got them out there being collected out there right now on the space station in the a.m.s. and it was on the station one day after they put it there. it's collecting this. it's going to help us learn all the way back to the origin of the universe. huff hutch will the gentleman yield, because -- -- mrs. hutchison: will the gentleman yield, because -- mr. nelson: of course. mrs. hutchison: when i was there last week, the gna nobel lawyer rat from m.i.t. who built the spectrometer and convinced us of the importance of putting it on the space station, he was there with mark kelley and myself and he said they have a had a billion hits now of those cosmic rays. and he was on a cloud literally about what they are learning already. and mark kelley said in a press
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conference that we had following that meeting that it was the most significant achievement that he has ever made in his entire career as an astronaut. and i believe that he will be proven right, and i think dr. samuel tingh will be eligible for another nobel prize in physics, if this -- if we can really find the genesis of matter and antimatter in space, which he said we would; that you cannot duplicate on earth except by trying to put these atom smashers and electron smashers on earth but at much bigger expense than being able to do it in space, where it just happens; billions already, he said. so, thank you. i will leave the floor. but i know we digress, but it is very, very exciting. thank you. mr. nelson: well, as the --
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mr. president, as the senator is leaving, i just want to say that she and i did have to stand shoulder to shoulder, and we had some fights, and of course in the process we had some critics, too. now, some of my critics wish that when i went into space that it had been a one-way ticket. but the fact is that it was two ways, and we stood another day, and the proof is in the pudding of what's happening up there. and i'll have something later to say, mr. president, about the wind down of the space shuttle program, but while the senator from texas was here, i just wanted her to know my profound gratitude for her collegiality, her friendship, her expertise. and working in the way this
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senate ought to work, which is in a bipartisan way. and i thank her profoundly for that example that she set for the senate and for this country. mr. president, i certainly -- we're here about general petraeus. i'm a member of the senate intelligence committee. i have had a chn chance to visit with him on a number of occasions in his capacity as general as well as now the nominee -- soon to be the new c.i.a. director. and i would just simply say that i don't think for our national security's sake that you can have two better nominee nominee. the former c.i.a. director who has been confirmed by this
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senate as the new secretar secrf defense taking over from an extremely good and competent secretary of defense, secretary gates -- and of course those leon panetta -- and then for his shoes as the leader of the c.i.a. to be filled by general petraeus. and what is happening today is illustrated by the motis operandi of the takedown of bin laden. it is a marriage between the military community and the intelligence community. painstaking years of effort to get the intelligence since bin laden went dark, after he
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slipped through our fingers in torah bortora bora wand we knews communicating through a courier, so the question was, how did we find the courier, and once we identified who it was, where was he, find him and follow him. and that of course led us to the compound. and then married up with all of that intelligence on what was going on at that compound, then in came the u.s. military, although it was a c.i.a. operation, as reported by the newspapers, led by leon panetta. in fact, it was a three-star admiral, a navy seal, that conducted the actual raid from his headquarters and, of course, the seals took care of business.
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and they did it in just such a proficient, effective and magnificent way and sequestered all of those women and children, save for the one woman, as reported in the newspaper that got caught in the cross fire when the seals were firing. and so it was an absolutely 100% operation, and it is illustrative of why this appointment of general petraeus is so important and why the appointment of leon panetta, as secretary of defense, was so important. because these two are going to be just like that. as we are protecting the national security for years to come. so that's what i want to say about general petraeus. now, mr. president, i want to speak on another subject, the
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budget, and so i would ask consent that i speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, the negotiations over this deficit reduction and the debt ceiling package -- all right, it's hit the critical stage. it's begin├▒ -- it's beginning to come into the consciousness of the country and most of the people around here who have, in some cases, wanted to push it off; in other cases have said, oh, the debt ceiling, that's not such a big deal. well, it's baffling. it's baffling that people would say that. the economic chaos that would reign in this country and the world financial markets if the federal government was not able to pay all of its bills would be
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catastrophic. and how anybody can say that, any person in a responsible position can say that. but it's also baffling that there are so many people -- and you know who they are -- that have decided to draw a line in the sand on any deficit reduction and say it's going to be my way or no way. now, that's part of the problem of what's going on in this country right now, is this is a big, broad, diverse, complicated country. the very principle of a body like this is that you respect the other fellow's point of view. and when you have differences of opinion, you try, as the good book says, to come, let us reason together and to hammer
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out a workable solution. and, yet, you hear the rhetoric. it's going to be their way or no way. and so no matter when you talk about closing corporate tax loopholes -- no, that has to do with tax revenue. it sure does. but there's a certain amount of people that are not paying their tax revenue on loopholes. you know, two weeks ago we acted on one of those tax loopholes overwhelmingly. this senate voted to get rid of one of those tax loopholes, and it was for corn ethanol, the big subsidy. and it was multibillions of dollars per year that was a tax deduction; in other words, lost tax revenue. and the senate finally realized
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that that wasn't worthwhile. why are we saying that we should not put that in as a part of the package on deficit reduction? $1 of deficit reduction is $1 of deficit reduction, regardless of where it comes from; whether it comes from actually whacking federal spending or whether it is cutting out some of the special tax breaks for some of this country's most profitable multinational corporations. so if the objective is to bring down the deficit -- and what is a deficit? an annual deficit is you have income coming in in the form of
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tax revenue. you have outgo going out in the form of expenditures. when the twaor equal, that's a balanced budget -- when the two are equal, that's a balanced budget. when i came into the senate, we had four years of this. tax revenue was above annual expenditures, and the difference for four years. we had a surplus. but this is what has happened, mr. president. the expenditures are here and the tax revenue is here. and if you're going to get the budget eventually in balance over the course of a decade, you've got to do this. and that doesn't mean just tax increases. it can be done by eliminating tax expenditures, which over the
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next ten years -- get this -- tax expenditures in the existing tax code are $13 trillion over the next ten years. you don't have to get rid of all of them, and some of them we don't want to get rid of because they're good tax policy. they're good political public policy. but you can sure get rid of some of it. we have the other side over there that won't even talk about some of these tax loopholes that we ought to be cutting. they say, well, that's increasing taxes. the truth be known, it's because most of them, whether they like it or not, on that side of the aisle have taken a pledge to a
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fellow named grover nordquist and said that they will not vote for any tax -- new taxes. and it is being interpreted that tax expenditures -- in other words, tax deductions, that if you close those tax loopholes, that's going to be new taxes. well, that's tax revenue that is not coming in to the u.s. treasury because some special interest is getting a tax deduction that we ought to question. and a good example of this is what we just voted on on the removal of the subsidy of a tax subsidy for corn ethanol. at the end of the day, for
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americans, this debate is going to matter hugely. if we have to do something by just cutting expenditures and not do the tax loopholes, then in order to address the deficit -- remember that this is the deficit. this is expenditures. and this is tax revenue. and if you've got to bring that into balance by only moving down the expenditures, well, we're going to have to take it out of the hide of retirees, out of the hide of hospitals, schools, what senator hutchison and i were just talking about -- the space
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program -- the coastal preservation programs, our national parks, the federal prisons. are we going to put an end to the narrow tax breaks for the well-connected or are we just going to whack all of those programs? now, this senator's view is that if you really want to get a package that is going to be serious and that is real money, that is not smoke and mirrors and budgetary sleight of hand, then you're going to have to get a package of about $4 trillion in ten years of deficit reduction. there's no reason if you're going to be serious about budget
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reduction, that special benefits for oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, hedge funds and other special interests should be a sacred cow not to be touched. and what message does it send to the everyday american about their government and who that government represents if we just take it out of the hides of people like those that i just mentioned, like retirees? so, basically i would suggest you take a page from one of our illustrious former presidents, president reagan. in 1984 the federal government was confronted by deficits as far as the eye could see. i was a young congressman at the time. president reagan understood that
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it was appropriate to close those tax loopholes as part of deficit-reduction process. and the deficit-reduction act of 1984 included more than 60 provisions aimed at shutting down tax shelters and ending the abusive special interest tax breaks. and that 1984 bill, it targtd foreign investors that sought to -- targeted foreign investors that sought to use offshore havens to dodge u.s. taxes. and it targeted wall street's use of financial derivatives to evade u.s. income tax. and it included some provisions targeting the windfall tax, the windfall profits for oil companies and put a tax on that. and so that brings me to what i
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want to give some detail and an example of. for decades oil companies have been enjoying the generous tax subsidies of the american taxpayer by using their ample resources to get tax benefits very generously given from the federal government. oil and gas companies are experts at figuring out the narrow tax break, and it benefits their interest, and it does so particularly with regard to offshore drillers. the largest of all the dedicated oil and gas tax breaks is the ability of the oil companies to
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immediately expense intangible drilling costs. these costs include drilling and development work completed before a well begins production. and oil companies are able to deduct or, in other words, to write off as an expense those costs, and do so immediately. the tax break for intangible drilling expenses is going to cost the american taxpayer $12.4 billion over the next debating if it's not repealed. and the president has proposed its repeal. several of us in the senate have proposed the repeal and have filed a bill to do it. and the repeal from this tax break on intangible costs for
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oil companies ought to be included in a deficit-reduction package. now remember, it's a choice. are we going to cut people like retirees and the spas trace and -- and the space program and educational expenses and the environment and the federal prisons? or are we going to get tax revenue from special tax breaks like this? for several years oil companies working offshore have been devoting significant resources toward complex tax schemes to avoid paying tax to uncle sam. let's take a closer look. transocean that,'s a name that ought to ring familiar. they were the ones that, remember, operated the defective
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blow out, the one that didn't work, the one that was to cut off the oil flow when there was an explosion on the deepwater horizon oil well? well, let's look at the record. in 1999 transocean moved its place of incorporation from delaware to the cayman islands. in 2008, it moved from the cayman islands to switzerland. this tax avoidance operation referred to as -- quote -- "corporate inversion" had no real effect on where transocean does business. it continues to be, in fact, managed and controlled from houston, texas. and it continues to have a
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substantial drilling activities in american waters. by changing its legal domicile from delaware to a tax haven in the caribbean, transocean was able to cut its tax bill nearly in half. martin sullivan estimates that transocean's offshore tax scheme saved the company $1.9 billion from 2002 to 2009. now, that's an example of one of these tax subsidies that ought to be eliminated. congress shut down those corporate inversions in 2004 but only on a going-forward basis. and until congress gets serious about taxing u.s.-managed companies that deceptively claim to be foreign corporations,
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transocean and others will continue to benefit. and transocean is not alone. we know of at least five oil companies involved in offshore drilling that moved their legal domicile to a tax haven in the caribbean in order to avoid paying u.s. income tax. and i will conclude, mr. president, by saying, unlike transocean, b.p. has never been an american corporation. but it has no problem in reaping the benefits of our poorest tax code drve our porous tax code. we learned soon after the $20 billion claims entity was announced that b.p. would be writing off all of its expenses for tax purposes.
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writing off awful that expense for owl of the oil that was spilled that hurt so many of our residents in florida and all up and down the gulf coast. they're going to write that off as a tax deduction deduction and, therefore, pay less tassmenttaxes.estimated to redux burden for -- by $9 billion for b.p. several of us have introduced legislation to shut down this abusive tax break as well, and it's another that we ought to put in this deficit-reduction package. and so, mr. president, i conclude by saying that these corporate tax loopholes for oil companies should be part of any deficit-reduction package, and this senator is going to continue to stand up and fight to ensure that they are a part
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of that deficit-reduction package. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mccain: what's the pending business before the senate? the presiding officer: the petraeus nomination, the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: and, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with the senator from south carolina. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, in a few minutes we will be casting, i'm sure, a 100-0 vote to confirm general david patraeus as the new director of the central intelligence agency, and obviously his nomination is supported by all members of the senate, and i'm sure all americans, especially those like the senator from south carolina and myself who have had the
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great privilege and honor of knowing general petraeus for many years and watching him lead the men and women serving in our military in a fashion that i have never seen surpassed. the senator from south carolina has had the unique privilege and responsibility to serve under general petraeus in uniform because, as most of our colleagues know, the senator from south carolina also serves as a colonel in the south carolina national guard and in the legal corps as a j.a.g. officer. and the senator from south carolina has worked with general petraeus both in iraq and afghanistan on many of the important issues concerning detainees as well as other issues. and before i ask the senator
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from south carolina for his comments, i would like to repeat what i said before. i don't believe that in my life, which has been blessed to know many outstanding military leaders of all branches of the service, that i have ever quite encountered a military leader or civilian leader, for that matter, with the combination of charisma and intellect that general petraeus possesses. the senator from south carolina and i and the senator from connecticut, senator lieberman, and i had the unique opportunity among many visits that we've made to iraq and afghanistan -- one, 4th of july in 2007, to
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be present at a reenlistment service that took place at the palace in baghdad. there was a couple of how to spectators, and there was well over 200 young men and women who had agreed to reenlist, to continue to serve in iraq when they could have fulfilled their commitment that they made to serve us in the military and go home to their families and a grateful nation. instead, they chose to reenlist, to stay and continue the fight. that the same ceremony there was -- at that same ceremony, there was -- part of that ceremony was to administer the oath of citizenship to over 75 people who were not born in the united states of america, who were not citizens, who were green cardholders, who were legally in the united states as green
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cardholders, but had joined the military in order to serve and to achieve an accelerated path to citizenship. what struck me at that ceremony was that in the front row there were three empty seats with boots on them of individuals who were green cardholders who were scheduled to take the oath of citizenship and who had been killed in the previous few days in action, serving their country in iraq. i was privileged to speak. the senator from south carolina spoke. the senator from connecticut spoke. but when general david patraeus spoke to those assembled men and women who are serving their country, it was very obvious of the not only respect but adoration that every are you ont every one of those young americans felt for the inspirational leadership that
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general petraeus had provided them. and i might point out that it was a time when most experts and many politicians and members of this body predicted that the surge would fail. well, i think what they didn't take into account was the incredible leadership and implementation of a strategy that was embodied by general david patraeus and the young men and women who are serving. so i am confident that as we continue the fight against al qaeda and the radical islamic extremists that want to attack and destroy our country that general david patraeus, now director of the c.i.a. -- soon to be director of the c.i.a., will provide our nation with the very best strategy, tactics, and thought and action to keep our nation safe. so i don't very often,
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mr. president, come and talk about nominees and spend the senate's time. but i know that i express the appreciation and affection of all those men and women both serving now and in the past who had the great honor and privilege of serving under general petraeus and to wish him well-done and smooth sailing and following winds as he assumes his new responsibilities, which will continue to keep america safe. mr. graham: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: well, i just want to echo what senator mccain said. i think our american military will be studying the petraeus tactics and strategy that he implemented in iraq and afghanistan for generations to come. and in january of 2007, when the surge was announced, i had the pleasure of being over in iraq
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in april. but i remember a letter issued by general petraeus to all those under his command, and it was basically entitled "hear "hard t hopeless." he explained in great detail in the letter how we would move forward as a nation, that it would be difficult, it would be hard, but it is not hopeless, and i have seen the inspiration he provides to our men and women in uniform, and i cannot tell you how much this country owes general petraeus and his family. he's been deployed almost continuously since 2001, but what he was able to accomplish in iraq with the help of those under his command -- and he'll be the first to say they deserve the credit -- and now afghanistan -- he came into afghanistan under very difficult circumstances, losing a commander in the field, and the progress in of th in the last ys been stunning. thwe have a new training program
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to train afghan security forces that will pay great dividends. to the president, h you have chosen wisely. i am confident that director petraeus will dos a good a jube -- will do as good job as director petraeus. following leon panetta who did a good job, we are in good hands. i don't believe any single person understands the threats america faces better than general petraeus. and at the c.i.a. he'll have chance to take the fight to the enemy in a different way. we will not have available forever 100,000 troops to be used in theaters of battle. we're going to bring our troops hophome in iraq and afghanistan. i hope we do it smartly based on conditions. but this fight is morphing into other countries, and the c.i.a. is playing a more crucial role in our nation's defense than in any time in the history of the c.i.a. so we will be blessed to have
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dave petraeus to be drerveght c.i.a. he understands the threats. i think he will be able to marshal the resources of the c.i.a. to keep the enemy on their heels and to reinforce to our allies that we are a reliable partner and to our enemies there is no place you can hide. there's no passage of thyme will keep you safe from -- passage of time that will keep you safe from american justice. i hope the senate will listen to general petraeus, who will soon be director petraeus, about how to make sure the c.i.a. is equipped and funded to take then mi on. in this war on terror, we are fighting an idea. there is no capitol to conquer, no a 5eu6rs to shoot down, no navy to sink. we are battling and idea. and the way we ultimat ultimatee safe is the to fight the will of those with the terrorists in
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their backyard. let the terrorists know that we will follow to you the gates of hell, that we will never relent and the c.i.a. and the brave men and women who serve in that organization are becoming the tip of the sneer this battle. what happened in somalia yesterday was, what's going to happen in the future in yemen and somalia is a direct result of good intelligence and national l so to senator mccain, and those who have got to know general petraeus, i can assure you that president obama chose wisely. this is the perfect job for dave petraeus to take up for the nation. he has the understanding of the threats that we face and the c.i.a. is the platform we'll be using against the enemy more effectively than any other platform i know. so with that, i look forward to quafcasting my vote for directof the c.i.a., dave petraeus. aintdz hope everybody in this body will provide a vote of confidence to general petraeus. he's earned this.
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america is in good hand with dave petraeus being the c.i.a. director. with that, i yield. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: stphao*
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quorum call: the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the question is on the petraeus nomination. there appears a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: are there any senators who have not yet voted or who wish to change their vote?
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the presiding officer: are there any senators who have not yet voted or who wish to change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 94, the nays are 0, and the nomination is confirmed.
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under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate will resume legislative session. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the finance committee be authorized to meet today at 3:00 p.m. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that at 4:00 p.m. on tuesday, july 5, the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 88, s. j. res. 20, a joint resolution authorizing the limited use of the united states armed forces in support of the nato mission in libya. [inaudible] a senator: i realize this is a very important issue and i understand that a number of my colleagues have worked very hard to bring this issue to the flo floor. but the fact of the matter is it simply doesn't address the fact
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that we're bankrupting this nation. so, mr. president, i do object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: note the absence of a quorum. a senator: mr. president? mr. reid: there will be no -- mr. president, prior to the chair calling for the quorum there, will be -- i've conferred with my friend, the republican leader, and there will be no more votes today or tomorrow. the first vote will be next tuesday. note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. reid: i ask consent that be
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terminated. i ask unanimous consent to proceed for a period of morning business for debate only until 6:00 p.m. tonight with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each during that period of time. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i -- i regret that our colleagues have objected to consent to go to some of the most critical issues the country are facing, to have the finance committee meet on trade agreements that could expand markets and ultimately create jobs here in america, and that's what we need in america is creating jobs. that on the question of whether there should be a limited use of force that the country and particularly the senate should speak and not being able to do that is pretty amazing to me. and so i hear a lot about wanting to get the people's work done but then i hear objections to trying to move on get the people's work done.
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it's a pretty -- pretty outrageous. mr. president, i want to -- i came originally to the floor after this vote to thank president obama for yesterday calling and echoing my call to end subsidies for big oil. it's a call that received a bipartisan vote here in the senate, a bipartisan majority vote here in the senate, but, of course, did not pass. did not as if because of our colleaguescolleagues' insistenca filibuster for a supermajority amount. but it's time that our friends on the other side of the aisle put the interests of taxpayers ahead of big oil and allow these wasteful subsidies to finally end. as the president said, we have strategies to reduce the
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deficit. like my legislation to cut oil subsidies that are already introduced and ready to go. and all we have to do is pass it. and a vote to allow that to happen is a simple choice for everyone in this chamber. are you on the side of working-class families and seniors? or are you on the side of big oil? now, there are lots of ways to cut the deficit, but saving taxpayer subsidies for big oil while ending medicare as we know it and cutting student loans is not, in my mind, a solution. it makes no sense, mr. president, to give a taxpayer h. funde of it funded o the big five oil companies earning huge profits a month, they're going to earn about $144 billion this profits this year alone and say to families, oh, no, you have to sacrifice even more.
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now, those on the other side of the aisle would tell a middle-class student, whose family earns a medium family income of about a little over $50,000, that, no, you can't go to college. you can't get a pell grant from the federal government. but exxonmobil, a company that will earn $42.6 billion in profits this year, needs government assistance. and they will continue to come to this floor, look america in the eye, and say that that somehow is commonsense deficit reduction. mr. president, there simply is no commonsense explanation for balancing the budget on the backs of working families and letting multibillion-dollar oil companies keep billions in taxpayer dollars. so, we have this debate about the deficit and how we deal with
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the debt ceiling, but we don't seem to want to have the shared sacrifice of having the special interests in this country, whether it is big oil or ethanol, which had a huge bipartisan vote here in the senate, that they should not face any consequences but that, in fact, middle-class working families should. we all know that oil companies are among the largest, most profitable companies in the world. but somehow it's hard to understand the scale of their wealth, and i think this chart shows it very clearly. here's our choices. this is the median income for families in this country. this is big oil's profits. whose side are you on? whose side are you on? and you know it is about closing loopholes, which given the current budget climate, you would think that we're all for closing those loopholes. let me just give you one example of what one of those loopholes are. under the law as it exists
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today, we allow the big five oil companies to go to other countries in the world, to say to them, you know, tax us in a way that we can take that and ultimately reduce our obligations here in the u.s. so since u.s. taxpayers are taxed on their income worldwide but are entitled for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for any income they pay to a foreign government, which makes sense because you don't want to tax our companies twice, but u.s. oil and gas companies have very smart lawyers and accountants and they figured out that if you go if a foreign government like i understand niece shah and you sty them, don't charge me a license fee, don't charge me a royalty, wheys we do here in the -- which is what we do here in the united states to permit these companies to explore on federal lands and waters for oil and gas, we charge them a royalty. no, they say to indonesia and other countries, charge me a
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tax. why? because then i can take all of that tanches which really is a license fee, but now pay it as a tax, and i can deduct it back here in the united states. so what does that mean, mr. president? that means that american taxpayers are subsidizing foreign oil production. that's not in the national interests of the united states. it is not in the interest of taxpayers in the united states. and it isn't about shared sacrifice when we are talking about how to deal with deficit and debt in this country. and just closing that loophole would close $6.5 billion to the treasury that could be put drail to deficit reduction. as a matter of fact, i'm only talking about closing two loopholes for the big five oil companies who are going to make $144 billion in profit. just closing those two loopholes would save the u.s. taxpayer $21
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billion over the next ten years. now, some of my friends on the other side of the aisle, they say, oh, well if you do that to those poor oil companies, they're just going to raise the price of gasoline. and that's simply not true. first of all, we're talking about $21 billion over ten years, or roughly $2 billion a year. so those poor oil companies, if they'd only make $142 billion in profits this year instead of $144 billion in profits this year, would not have to raise gas prices, because they're making $142 billion a year, so they certainly don't need to raise gas prices. and we certainly don't need to incentivize their exploration because they're making record profits in this country. and in the world. they don't need us to incentivize them when they're making $144 billion in profits. so let's save the taxpayers that
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$21 billion. let's put it directly to deficit reduction. and only in washington -- only in washington would my republican friends suggest that stopping those subsidies to big oil is somehow going to be a tax increase. only in washington could ending $21 billion in subsidies to the big five oil companies -- we're not even talking about the independents who are goinindepeo make $144 billion in profits this year, that's somehow a tax increase. yet we'll take away pell grants or dramatically reduce them. we'll cut seniors under medicare, the poor under comairksd and that's okay. well, something is wrong with that vision of america. and dwrows back up mand just to back up my point that the
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argument is fell lay schuss, you need to look no further than the beginnive report by the congressional research service that explains that it will not lower the production of oil and will not raise gasoline prices. so, mr. president, you drive up to the pump, you pay nearly $4 a gallon already, it has a real impact on your family, has a real impact on your income, has a real impact on your choices, has a real impact on food prices, has a real impact in so many way, and yet we're still supposed to give the oil companies another $21 billion in tax breaks by the american taxpayer. it's time to stand up for the people's interest, not the special interests. it's time to end these tax breaks. it's time to put it as a revenue source into our challenges in terms of meeting our debt and dealing with our deficit.
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and our proposal would do exactly that. i don't know how you can look at the american people and look them in the eye and say, we're going to cut so many things that are going to affect your life, but on this issue, we're going to keep big oil whole. we're going to not touch a penny from their pockets. that's fundamentally wrong and the american people know it. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? i ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my republican colleagues for up to 30 minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. johnson: first of all, i would like to say i am very happy to hear that my democratic colleagues have agreed to allow us to come back next week and not continue on with the july 4th recess. it's important that we start work on the single-greatest issue, the single-most issue facing this nation, and that's our debt and deficit issue.
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so a couple minutes ago i objected to what the leadership wanted us to move to, which was an important debate on libya. but it is not addressing what we need to address. the fact of the matter is, in the senate this year, we've been here six months. we haven't passed a budget in that six months. as a matter of fact, we haven't passed a budget in the united states senate for over two years. we've missed all of the budget deadlines. we should have passed a budget by april 15. appropriations bills should have been completed by june 10. we're sumly not addressing -- we're simply not addressing the single-greatest issue facing this country and the enact we're bankrupting america. of the six bills that have been -- only six bills have been passed in the united states senate that have actually become law. three of those were cleaning up last year's business. they were continuing resolutions funding the government when what should have happened a year ago is those bills should have already been passed.
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in president obama's budget that he sent over here in january, it was so unserious that it actually lost 0-97 in the united states senate. not a single democrat senator voted for that budget. we have an awful lot of work to do. our budget deficit this year, the highest estimate i've heard is about $1.65 trillion. we've incurred over $4 trillion in just the last three years. if anyone wants to understand why our economy is in a coma, it is exactly that. people look to washington and they see how reckless, how out of control our spending is. as a former manufacturer, as somebody who has made investments, has created jobs, i realize when the federal government is spending so much money that it doesn't have, eventually the federal government is going to take. they're going to take in the form of higher taxes, possibly in the form of higher inflation,
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and the other thing that is overhanging this economy that is preventing job creation is the overregulation. i cannot tell you how many wisconsin business people come in a to our office and -- in to our office and are talking about that resolutio regulation or ths regulation that agencies are trying to impose on them. one of the things that's interesting about these regulations is they're not being implemented. just like the health care law. over 3 million waivers have been granted. why is that? i believe it's because this administration actually understands that if they cleme implemented the regulations, they understand exactly the harmful effect it would have on the economy, the harmful effect it would have on job creation. the fact of the matter is this administration came into office with a tough situation, no doubt about it. but their actions passed through
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the health care larks the 1,600-page dodd-frank financial law, that has made the situation far harder and worse. i think the senator has had a few words to say. a senator: yes, thank you, senator johnson. i come down to the floor today in support of this movement. this movement is that we should be talking about what america says we should be tbawg, the debt. mr. paul: now, yesterday the president went on national television and chastised congress. he said to congress, and i quote, "members of congress need to cancel things." well, you know what? i agree. i'm here today, though, mr. president. where are you? my understanding is the president is campaigning, has a fund-raiser in philadelphia tonight. i don't believe he's here tackling the nation's problems today. wcialtion he could send us the vice president, but i don't think the vice president is either here. will i think he's in las vegas
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campaigning tonight. so the thing is it is a two-way streevment if he's going to go on national television and chastise us not for doing work, we're here saying, we want to be work on the nation's problems. we're here taking the nation's debt is a problem. his administration has said the number-one national security threat we face is the debt. where is the president? campaigning. we're here, mr. president. and weep we will have an offer. we don't want to raise the debt ceiling. we don't want more debt. but as republicans, for the good of the country, we're willing to raise the debt, but only -- and i repeat, only if we have significant budgetary reform. we have to balance the budget by law, force congress to do it, by changing the constitution. it's the only way it will ever change. there is a pathology here. the pathology is that we do not have a spine. we are spineless and cannot do
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what it takes to cut the spending, and only we will get there if we change the constitution. so, mr. president, we are here. we are here. we welcome to you come back to town in between fund-raisers and talk about how we would fix this. but we would fix this by saying, yes, we will raise the debt ceiling, contingent upon a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. 75% of the public is in favor of saying you have to balance your budget. let's come back and discuss what the american people want. i comr johnson for leading this fight. i think this is just the beginning. but i don't plan on saying we should go to any other subject until we've addressed the debt ceiling. mr. johnson: senator, i totally agree with you. senator rubio has a few words to add. mr. rubio: thank you, senator johnson. i too watched the president's
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lecture on television. my reaction is twofold. one is i'm disappointed. the other is i'm alarmed. first i'm disappointed because america does not have a tradition of class warfare. one of the thing that distinguishes us from the world is americans never believe you somehow have to take money from somebody else in order to be better off. on the contrary, we've always looked to advance the cause of everyone in the belief we can all be prosperous. that's the american tradition. that serves our nation well. you wouldn't know that from the speech yesterday, the rhetoric that, quite frankly, was deeply disappointing. the idea that if we raise texass -- prays taxes on millionaires and billionaires that that somehow is going to make a difference in america's debt in terms of having a real impact, is not only misleading; i think, quite frankly, it's disappointing. it's class warfare and the kind of language you'd expect from the leader of a third world country, not the president of the united states. but i'm also alarmed and worried about the speech because i think
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from it you can only take two things. either the president doesn't truly understand the nature of the problems we face or he's decided this is a political issue, not a policy one. i say he perhaps doesn't understand the nature of the case because he mentioned the corporate jet tax six different times and yet the impact it would have is so insignificant that the white house is not able to give a dollar figure. that exact tax provision was part of the president's now infamous stimulus plan that passed in february of 2009. the bigger problem, though, is maybe the president fundamentally doesn't understand how jobs are created. politicians don't create jobs. u.s. senators don't create jobs. senator johnson pointed out jobs are created by everyday people from all walks of life that start a business or expand an existing one. our job here in government is to make it easier for them to do that, not harder. threatening to raise taxes, threatening to wage class warfare does not accomplish that
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purpose. here's what i would suggest to the president. we have done this before as a people of america. people around here are in favor of tax reform. a simpler tax reform, a manageable and sane regulatory environment and a government that doesn't spend money it doesn't have. these things have worked before and they will work again. i urge the president to lead us in that direction. mr. johnson: thanks, senator rubio. i wanted to pick up on one point you made about class warfare. as a job creator myself for 31, 32 years, i know an awful lot about other entrepreneurs. i have to point out how incredibly disspiritting it is to have leaders here in washington attack you day in and day out, demonize you when all you're trying to do is make a good life for yourself, your family, provide sound employment for other americans. i need to point out that class warfare does not work. it does nothing to help improve our economy. senator lee. mr. lee: thank you, senator johnson. there is no shaourb that is more
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important -- no issue more important or pressing for the american people than this one where the g.d.p. ratio is about 95%. our economy can't long endure that kind of borrowing. it has an effect that will result in an estimated loss of about a million jobs a year for each year that we remain above the 90% of debt to g.d.p. ratio. we simply can't endure that. the american people can't endure it. we need to increase revenues. the only way we're going to increase revenues is to allow the economy to recover. that won't happen as long as we keep borrowing more and more money while doing nothing to control the underlying problem, the systemic problem that requires a structural reform. the american people understandably, justifiably and very correctly are demanding that before we raise the nation's debt limit yet again, before we extend yet another credit card for the united states of america, we commit to some kind of cuts. future borrowing requires us to make future cuts. the problem with that is the
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moment that that debt is actually used up, the moment it's incurred, the american people are under an obligation. but if we phraeubg a promise today -- if we make a promise today that we're going to cut, let's say $2 trillion or $3 trillion or $4 trillion over the next 10 or 12 or 14 or 15 years, that's a promise that we can't make. that's a promise that we can't really commit to because this congress, the one that sits right now, will not be the same congress that convenes in january of 2013 or on january of 2015 or in future years. we've got to make changes right now. and the only way that we can commit to future cuts, to future structural reforms, the only way we can bind future congresses is by amending the u.s. constitution to change the way we spend money, limit spending as a percentage of g.d.p. and to require a supermajority to spend more than we have or to raise taxes. that's what we're demanding. we're willing to work, we're
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willing to come to the table on the debt limit. but we demand some kind of solution that will put us on course towards sanity. that's why we're here. mr. johnson: thanks, senator. senator ayotte. ms. ayotte: i want to thank my colleagues and i think those of you who are watching this will see that we are new senators back here in the back corner of the senate, and i can tell you as a new member of this chamber i'm deeply disappointed by the lack of work that we have been doing here in the united states senate. and the majority leader has put us in a position where we haven't been focusing on the fiscal crisis that is facing our nation right now. when you look at the fact that it's been 792 days since we've had a budget. and i was so excited as a new member of the budget committee to roll up my sleeves and get together to put together a responsible blueprint for this country; yet, unfortunately, we
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were told by the majority leader that would be foolish to put together a responsible blueprint for this country and to do the work of the budget committee. one of the reasons i came to the united states senate is i'm tired of business as usual. i know that my freshmen colleagues back here share that. and i'm the mother of two children. i know that the president mentioned his children yesterday. but if you care about your children and the future of this country, we owe it to our children to not continue to kick the can down the road. we should be in the united states senate today and next week talking about how we are going to put together a blueprint that makes sure that we do not continue to borrow from countries like china, that we do not continue to enslave our children with the debt that this country is accumulating.
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and we know that if we do not address this, that the greatest country in the world will go bankrupt. and i, for one, want to follow through on the promise, the american promise that we have always made to the next generation, and that is that we will leave them with a better country. and that is so threatened right now with what is happening here in washington. that's why i share with my colleague, senator johnson, i do not believe that we should be addressing anything next week but spending and debt, and we have the debt ceiling vote coming up. so why aren't we rolling up our sleeves right now, mr. president, and working on a solution with real spending reforms, putting those handcuffs on congress that we know we need, like a balanced budget amendment, spending caps, a budget for our country so we don't continue to have this
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continuing resolution situation, one that reduces spending. we do not have a tax problem in this country. we have a spending problem. and we need to create a positive climate for our private sector and really do the hard work here in washington like our families do and live within our means. so i think next week we should be doing the work that needs to be done. you know, mr. president, you called on us yesterday to work. we are here working. mr. president, the only blueprint, financial and fiscal blueprint that you have offered, your budget for 2012, did not even get one vote from a member of your party in this chamber. that budget blueprint would have added another $14 trillion to our debt. so i say to our president, we're willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work with you to
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avert this looming fiscal crisis, but where is your plan that's going to reduce spending and get us on a responsible fiscal path to preserve the greatest country in the world? mr. johnson: thanks, senator ayotte. senator vitter. mr. vitter: thank you, senator johnson. i'm honored to join you and all of our colleagues here to echo the same important message. everyone knows, everyone paying attention across the country knows that our greatest challenge is out-of-control spending and debt. everyone knows that we face a mountain crisis and an important deadline in terms of the debt limit. and so when are we going to face these crucial issues? the top challenges we face as a country, when are we going to face them squarely, directly, constructively here on the floor of the u.s. senate? it's just that simple. let's get to the important matter at hand.
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let's debate in a constructive way. let's vote on proposals to curb spending and debt. yesterday we stood together under senator johnson's leadership and said just that, and we said we're going to block any effort to go into a recess or even a pro forma session next week, july 4 recess. and we have done that. we have successfully blocked that recess. and we're going to do it because we need to roll up our sleeves. we need to go to work, not go on vacation, about this crucial challenge of spending and debt. interestingly, president obama in many ways said the same thing yesterday. and he chastised congress and said you need to go to work, not go on vacation to address this crucial issue. well, great, we've succeeded in canceling that recess. that's a first important step. but why are we continuing to try to move to every other issue under the sun except the biggest
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challenge our country faces? why don't we face this issue, debate it in a constructive way? senator reid, why don't you put measures on the floor that directly address this issue? with that in mind, those of us who joined together yesterday to block our july 4th recess have written senator reid a letter today, and i think it summarizes our point and our position very clearly, so i'll read it. it's not long. "dear leader reid, yesterday we came together to make it clear that we believe the senate should not go on vacation while our country goes bankrupt. and we vow to block any recess or pro forma session next week. we're glad you've accepted that reality, but let's not be in session just to try to fool the american people into thinking the senate is working on the nation's fiscal crisis. let's actually begin a constructive debate on the biggest challenge our country
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faces: spending and debt. with that goal, we write to ask a few simple fundamental questions: when will you put serious bills on the floor to directly address spending and debt? the budget act of 1974 requires the senate budget committee to mark up a budget by april 15, and tomorrow will mark the 793rd day since the democratic-led senate has passed a budget, and the 11th week since missing that deadline this year. when will the budget committee meet to mark up a budget proposal? and when will you put such a proposal on the floor? the american people want us to enact meaningful, effective spending caps. when will you put a spending cap bill on the senate floor? we clearly need the enforced discipline of a balanced budget constitutional amendment. this measure failed by a single vote last time it was debated on the floor of the u.s. senate.
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when will you put a balanced budget amendment on the senate floor? mr. senator reid, we await your response and your leadership." again, mr. president, to summarize, we banded together yesterday and said as the country goes bankrupt, we shouldn't go on vacation. we're going to block any recess, any pro forma session next week, and we did. but we did it to turn to this challenge, to debate spending and debt in a constructive way, to have votes on that, not to continue to avoid the issue and turn to every other issue under the sun. and so, through the chair, i'd again ask senator reid why don't we turn to this most important challenge of our country? please put serious bills on the senate floor that directly address spending and debt. let's get on with the people's work. mr. johnson: thanks, senator
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vitter. senator sessions. mr. sessions: thank you, senator johnson, and thank you for your leadership on this issue. as the ranking republican on the budget committee, i share my colleague's disappointment that we have not functioned. it's good to see senator ayotte and senator johnson who are members of that committee. we worked hard to get prepared some weeks ago on the assumption that the united states senate would meet its statutorily required duty, and that is to produce a budget. i'm holding up title 2, united states code section 632, and it's the budget act, and it requires that the congress annually produce a budget. we have gone now 792 days, i guess, without a budget. it's the first line of the act is on or before april 15 of each year, congress shall complete action on the concurrent resolution on the budget, for the fiscal year beginning
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october 1 for the next fiscal year. well, we haven't done that. it also said that we should meet by april 1. senator conrad, our budget chairman, our democratic chairman and able experienced -- an able, experienced chairman was prepared to go forward. it is pretty clear to me that the majority leader decided that we shouldn't have a budget process. last year, the budget committee produced a budget out of committee but the majority leader failed to bring it up for vote on the floor, and as the leader, he has the power to control that fact and was able to do so. this year, he said it would be foolish to have a budget and basically we haven't even met in committee to have a budget. so we are facing the most serious, systemic debt crisis in our nation's history. the numbers are so serious and
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our path is so unacceptable that it is clearly the number-one issue in -- of our time. the chairman of president obama's debt commission gave us a written statement to the budget committee, said this nation has never faced a more predictable economic crisis. when asked when erskine bowles, president clinton's chief of staff said it could be two years, a little before, a little after. so i guess what i'm saying is that these individuals, particularly the ones that just finished a campaign, traveled all over their state, talked to hundreds of thousands, millions of people in their state, got a feel for it. they are bringing new vitality and new insight into what's happening, and what's happening is nothing. six months have gone by and we
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have had not any hearings, we have had not any votes on the floor, we haven't seen any legislation. so i think that this is an unacceptable method. i think it undermines the classic constitutional duty of congress to appropriate money, deal with taxes, it's our responsibility, and we have to ultimately be responsible for it, but have you observed mayors who say i'm not going to present a budget to city council, i'm going to let them decide? do you see governors not present budgets to the state legislatures and then fight for what they believe in? look what's happened to governor christie, governor cuomo in new york, governor brown in california, governor bentley in alabama. it really helps to have that one single person elected to
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represent everybody provide some impetus, and it's astounding to me that we haven't seen that from the majority leader in the senate and from the president. he submitted a budget but then backed away from it. it went down 97-0 on the floor just a few weeks ago, but it was never seriously considered. what are we going to do? we're head to go a time when we may be asked within a few hours to vote on a monumental multicriminal dollar deal to raise the debt limit of the united states, and what will be in it? will we really be changing the trajectory of our nation or will it be business as usual? we're not going to have time to review it. that should be on the floor now. people should be standing up and casting votes right now. howhow much taxes do you want to increase? do you?
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which ones? how much do you want to cut, sessions? where. let's have the vote out here. that's what we should be doing. i think it will help the american people understand how serious our fix is, what it's going to take to get out of it. it's much more serious and our problem is greater than most people realize. so i thank my colleagues for their good comments and the enthusiasm they have brought and the passion they have brought to this critical issue. mr. johnson: thanks, senator sessions. i will point out that business as usual here in washington is bankrupting america. senator demint. mr. demint: thank you, senator johnson. i'm glad our republican freshmen did not get the memo that they were supposed to be seen but not heard. it's really exciting for this old, dusty establishment when the people who just walked in the door are the ones who are leading it, and so i -- i thank all of the freshmen who are sitting here. washington is addicted to
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spending, and the addict in chief is president obama. he has promised many times to quit, to quit spending, to live within our means, but he keeps falling off the wagon. and now for the fourth time since he has been president, he is asking congress to refill the bolt so that -- bottle so that he can keep spending, keep borrowing, keep increasing america's debt. members of congress, the senate, often brag about the fact that we have the power of the purse. part of that power is to pass laws to limit how much the administration can borrow. it's been a tradition. both parties over the years have consistently blown through that legal debt limit and increased it whenever we wanted another drink. the debt limit is supposed to be a stop sign to stop the administration from spending more than we can afford as a nation.
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instead, they have turned it into a green light where we can just speed through and continue to pour more and more debt onto our children. but now we have gone from it being just a wink and a nod where we brag about how much bacon we take home to we're at the point where we could seriously lose our nation. i think americans sense that everywhere. congressmen and politicians constantly exaggerate and cry wolf, but i think there is a sense all across america that goes beyond partisanship to real worry. that's what i hear everywhere i go. people somehow intuitively know that if we have debt almost the size of our economy and projecting to even double that over the next ten years, that what they see on tv in greece and around the world are countries literally coming
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unglued could very well happen much quicker than we think here in the united states. we have got over $14 trillion in debt. we know the president's not serious about quitting this spending binge because the budget he sent us practically doubles that. and as we have gone through these last few months of talking about raising the debt limit once again, we have not gotten one proposal from the president to deal with this issue. he's played dozens of rounds of golf and had many, many fundraisers around the country, but he has been awol on this issue. so not only has he added over over $3 trillion of debt since he became president, he has been missing in action when it comes to actually dealing with it. and his condescending speech yesterday that told congress to solve the problem ignored the fact that he was elected as
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president to lead, and yet he's not even following when it comes to this issue. we do have a spending addiction, and the only way that we're going to stop this and keep our country from going over the cliff is if we have a constitutional requirement that we have to stop spending more than we're borrowing. now, outside of washington, that doesn't sound like an extraordinary thing to say, but here last week, one of the democrat senators called me extreme for suggesting that we needed to balance our budget. american families have to do it, businesses have to do it, 49 states have to do it, and sometimes it's painful, but we don't have to do it here. and the reason we have an unlimited government is that we have unlimited spending here in congress. we're at a point where we have to make a decision. we have obligated ourselves to
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borrow more money. we really don't have a good choice at this point, but if we're going to give the president more money to spend to meet obligations that he's already made, we have to make sure that this is the end of this spending addiction, and the only way for that to happen is if we in congress give the people of the united states and the 50 states the opportunity to decide for themselves if they want their federal government to have a balanced budget, and that's what our condition is. we will help the president deal with this debt ceiling, but he is going to have to agree with us and so will the democrat party that we're going to send to the states a balanced budget amendment that the states can ratify, and five years after they ratify it, this federal government must be in balance. if we can't do that, if we can't make that commitment to the american people that we're going to stop this addiction, stop bankrupting our country, then
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we're going to have to go through the pain that we have caused ourselves along with this president when we don't raise that debt limit. we need the help of americans today because the people in congress do not have the will power to do what i just said. we need millions of americans to call us and email us and tell the president and tell members of congress that this debt limit should not be raised again ever unless we permanently solve this problem for the american people. the presiding officer: the senator has used the 30 minutes of the colloquy. mr. demint: i ask unanimous consent for two more minutes. the presiding officer: hearing no objection, two minutes is granted. mr. demint: this is very little to ask this congress to do, to agree within the next six or eight years to do the hard work to balance our budget in return for giving the president more authority to borrow more money. we owe it to the american people to let them decide for themselves, let the states ratify.
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this is a huge decision, and all we're asking our democrat colleagues to do is to let america decide if we should have a balanced budget, let america decide if it's really a radical, extreme idea that we live within our means and stop spending more than we're bringing in. i know how america's going to answer that question, and that's why i want to give them the chance to answer it. mr. president, you have got the money you need to meet our obligations, but once and for all we need to mean what we say and stop spending this country into bankruptcy. thank you, mr. president, and i yield back. mr. johnson: thank you, senator demint, for your leadership on this issue. it is the most important issue facing this nation. i want to thank my colleagues for joining me here for the leadership they have shown as well. so with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president, and thank you for recognizing me. i'm pleased to be here today with my senior senator from
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colorado to talk about these important issues, and the first thing i wanted to talk about was the debt ceiling itself because people at home have -- have -- are asking me constantly, michael, what in the world is going on back there? we're dealing with our budget at the local level, we're dealing with our budget at the state level, we're making choices that aren't popular and that aren't easy to make, but we're moving ahead, we're making decisions in our businesses, we're making decisions at home, we're moving ahead. what's wrong with washington, d.c.? part of the problem in this place is that people aren't just entitled, it seems, to their own opinions. they are also entitled to their own set of facts, and i think when you're getting paid by the taxpayer, you have an obligation to actually not play with your own set of facts but to come out here and say, you know, what the facts really are. what the facts really are in the debt ceiling, the debt ceiling and the vote is that this is not a case of deciding you're
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sitting at the kitchen table and you're spending too much and so you're going to cut up your credit card. i would be for that. that's not what we're talking about here. these are about bills that have already been incurred by the united states. these are debts that are already owed by the united states. so what this is about is not cutting up your credit card, it's about sitting at home and saying you know what, i didn't budget very well last month, i didn't budget very well last year, and so even though i watched cable happily all year long, i'm not going to pay my cable bill this month. i'm just not going to do it. even though i lived in this house all year, i'm not going to make my mortgage payment this month. i'm just not going to do it. that's not fiscally responsible for a family to do, and it's not fiscally responsible for the federal government to do.
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at home if you do that, what you discover is that your mortgage rate goes through the roof because the bank says to you hey, michael bennet, you didn't pay your mortgage last month. and i'm not going to lend you money on the same terms that i lent you money before because you are a lousy risk. that is exactly what this is about. it's not about new├║ money. and i think it's important for everybody to understand that, because if we don't raise the debt limit and we say to the creditors of the united states, you're not getting paid, not to mention our veterans and our seniors and the men and women that are fighting in afghanist afghanistan, but to our bondholders, you're not going to get paid, they're going to raise our interest rates. and every percentage increase in
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our interest rate is going to drive us $1.3 trillion more into debt so there are people coming out here saying it's the fiscally responsible thing to do not to raise the debt ceiling when we're going to have $1.3 trillion more of debt to pay and the interest on that debt. and nothing to show for it. now, it's not surprising to me that washington being washington, that there are people that see this as an opportunity to create leverage over things, to have a negotiation about the direction of this country and i understand that. i understand that. i've felt for a very long time that we've got to get ahold of our deficit and our debt. we have a $1.5 trillion deficit. we've got almost $15 trillion of debt on our balance sheet, and i think we have a moral obligation not to constrain the choices of our kids and our grandkids.
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i've got three kids of my own that are 11, 10 and 6. one of them heard me say that during a town hall meeting and she followed me out to the sidewalk and she said, "daddy," and i said, what? this is care aline, the oldest. i said, "what?" she said, "just to be clear" -- she's making fun of me, mr. president, because i use that expression sometimes -- she said, "just to be clear, i'm not paying that back." which is the right attitude for her to have. and we need to be advocates for a caroline bennet and all the kids that are living across this country. not just to be fiscally responsible, which we need to be, not just asking what we're going to cut, which we need to do, but also prioritizing what we're spending to make sure that we are maintaining the american dream, to make sure that we're honoring the legacy of our parents and grandparents and their parents and grandparents
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and honoring our national creed that it's our job, not as senators but as americans, to provide more opportunity, not less, to the people that are coming after us. and the debt and the deficit is a huge piece of that. but you know what? it's not the only thing. i lay awake at night worrying about the fact that if -- i lie awake at night worrying about the fact that if you're poor in this country, it's hard for you to get a decent education. if you're born into a zip code that's defined by poverty in the united states, your chance of graduating with a college degree in the 21st century in the greatest country in the world are 9 in 100. that means 91 of you are consigned to a future where you can't participate meaningfully in the democracy, you can't participate meaningfully in this economy. we need to deal with that. the fact that we have an economy that's not generating jobs, where median family income for the first time in our history, mr. president, is falling, not rising. people come into my town hall
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meetings and say, "i've done everything that i could do over the last decade but i'm earning less at the end than i was at the beginning." and saying to me, "you know, michael, we sent our first kid to the fancy school but we're not going to be able to send our second kid there." or "we can't send our kid to the best college that they got into." we need to be working on that. we have an energy policy in this country right now -- or maybe it's better to say a lack of an energy policy in this country right now -- that forces us to ship billions of dollars a week of our treasure to the persian gulf to buy oil. that doesn't make any sense. i was on a call last week with farmers from my state that were saying to me, they are being driven out of business by the broken immigration policy that we have. now, i think the people at home are sick and tired of the
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screaming match. i think the people at home are sick and tired of the partisanship. i believe that people don't think it's going to address these issues. and i think they look at this deficit and debt situation and they say to themselves, this is such a reflection of incompetence that we are fearful to have a conversation about all the other things that we have to do for our kids and for our grandkids. their standard of what they want us to do is extremely clear to me. the senior senator from i are from the most beautiful state in the country but we're also proud of the fact that it's the third democratic, a third republican and a third independent. and what i've taken out of the town hall meetings i've had is this. they want us to materially address this problem. they don't believe we're going to fix it all at once, and unfortunately they're right about that, but they want us to materially address it. they want to know that we're all in it together, that everybody
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has some role to play in helping preserve choice and options for the next generation of americans and to make sure that business understands that we're going to be good on the accounts that we have. that's not washingtonspeak, though. that's coloradospeak. it's tougher around here. and they want it to be bipartisan because they don't believe in either party's "go it alone" approach on this question. and i would add a coarl to all of -- a corollary to all of that which is that the capital markets need to be reassured that their paper is going to be worth what they paid -- what they've paid for it. we need a comprehensive approach here. it's an approach that's going to require us to cut discretionary spending. it's an approach that's going to require us to reform our entitlement system. it's going to be an approach that's going to require to us do real tax reform in this place. and we're not great here at walking and chewing gum at the
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same time but that's what we need to start doing. these are comprehensive and complicated questions. no one would rather vote on something than i would that didn't raise any taxes. but the math doesn't work. and it's clear that at the end of the day for us to move ahead, we're going to have an agreement that has all of those aspects in it -- discretionary spending cuts, entitlement reform and tax reform. that's why when senator johanns and i, a republican here, circulated a letter to the fleas had those three -- letter to the president that had those three elements in it, 32 democrats and 32 republicans signed the letter agreeing that all of these elements -- the president of the senate signed the letter -- agreeing that all of these elements were going to be part of a final product here. so what i wanted to do this afternoon was simply implore all of us to do our jobs, to get
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this behind us, to begin the building of america again in the 2 1st century, to make sure that we are not the first generation of americans to leave less opportunity, not more, to our kids and our grandkids. there's a lot more agreement behind closed doors in this place than there is out on the floor, and wa we need to bring e of that agreement out here. because if we fail to reach some conclusion before this debt limit vote and we unintentionally or intentionally end up in a place where we've turned our back on the debts that we owe, we're not going to be able to solve this problem. the choices are going to make these look like easy choices. and so we're going home for a few days this weekend, the senior senator and i, to celebrate the 4th of july, independence day, to spend some times with our families and
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friends and our neighbors, and then we're coming back next week. and my hope is that everybody comes back -- everybody, on both sides -- with more of a seriousness of purpose than we've had, with an ability to see not just political benefit but the benefit to the country of coming to agreement. if i can go home and say to people that we have reached a deal that meets the terms that i mentioned earlier, my view is that that would be perfectly fine in democratic parts of the state and in republican parts of the state. and that's what we should strive to do. i hope the american people will hold the people in this chamber accountable in the way they hold people at the local level and the state level accountable. no mayor would ever say, i'm going to willingly or wantonly
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jeopardize the credit rating of my city. the president of the senate was a mayor. and live to fight another day. and we shouldn't do that either. so i hope we move past the rhetoric of this debt ceiling discussion and actually into a conversation that will solve the fundamental problems and challenges that are facing our country. because if we don't do that, we're not going to be able to do the even more important work than that, which is to support the aspirations that all of us have for this country and for our children and a world that is becoming more complex and uncertain every single day. so i thank the senior senator from colorado for his incredible leadership on these issues and i -- and i believe that if we just continue to try to reach out and continue to try to work together, that ultimately we're going to find a path. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. i want to acknowledge the
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leadership of my colleague from colorado and particularly underline the salient points that he made during his remarks. i think most important to note about colorado is we are a third republican, a third democratic and a third independent in our political and electoral makeup and i think it drives us to find bipartisan solutions and bipartisan ground. and that's why we came to the floor this afternoon, was to hope -- in the hope that our colleagues from both sides of the aisle would join us in the discussion about how we move forward, not just on lifting the debt ceiling for the reasons that senator bennet outlined, but for the reasons that we think are as follows. we will lay a new foundation for our 21st century economy. we will send a message to the markets and the business community that we're serious about dealing with our annual deficits and our long-term debt. and i think, in effect, in doing such, we will inject a healthy dose of confidence into our country, into our markets and
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into our business community. and that will -- and that -- taking those steps, this will be a way of moving forward, as senator bennet said. i'll ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my colleague, senator bennet. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: senator udall, one of the things that you said that has reminded me of a conversation i'd had a number of months ago with somebody who's in the capital markets and who watches everything going on down here pretty closely but -- but quizically. he can't figure out what in the world we're doing. and i saw him, i think it was maybe in february sometime, somewhere in that time frame, and i asked him, as i always do, what are you doing? us one of the smartest investors that i know. and he said, i'm buying gold. and i said, why are you buying gold? and he said, because i don't have any confidence that you guys are going to be able to work this out and -- and get our deficit and debt under control.
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first of all, think about how unproductive that is. i'm not telling people to buy or sell gold but it doesn't create jobs in this economy. what we want people is investing in companies so they can grow and hire people and -- and create jobs. anyway, i saw him again about six weeks ago and we started talking about the debt ceiling conversation, and he said, it is beyond the realm of my comprehension that you guys would fail to lift the debt ceiling. now, here's a guy, cynical enough about the way this place works, who is saying he's buying gold but it's even beyond his comprehension that we could fail to lift the debt ceiling. and the reason for that is he actually understands what the facts are around this. but, you know, i think -- i think we will lift the debt ceiling. i certainly hope we will. but the more important point is what the senator has been working on for all these many months, which is coming to a comprehensive plan that actually addresses the underlying problem
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of our debt and our deficit so i thank the senator. mr. udall: my colleague and i, mr. president, hosted the capital conference, colorado capital conference two weeks ago, and we had coloradans from all sections of the state, all walks of life. we had the three main political points of view represented, democrats, independents, republicans, and they remarked to you, i know, senator bennet, and to me as well, after hearing from a broad range of our colleagues who were gracious enough to take time to speak to our constituents and answer questions, that we all identified the problem and we all had identified the solution, which was a comprehensive plan that we implemented together. and we're here again on the floor this afternoon to call on all of our colleagues to join us in working together, finding that common ground. because there's a lot at stake but there's enormous opportunity. my colleague knows that. he's been a successful businessman in one of his
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previous lives. but you may want to comment on the capital conference as well. mr. bennet: yeah. and it is clear to me that if this decision were being left up to a hundred coloradans, we'd scratch our head and -- and we'd probably argue out some things but i think it would take about a day for us to come to a set of solutions that would solve the problem, or at least move us down the road, and we'd feel pretty patriotic about what we had done, that we had done something useful for our kids. and at the end of this process, if we're able to deliver something like that, i think that's how we ought to feel. there are too many days around this place where i think we feel like we've lost sight of all of that. and this that conversation that you're talking about, al simpson was such a big part of, alice
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riff arrivlin, a number of peopt was abun did notly clear that you couldn't approach this problem by drawing bright lines and saying, no, you can't touch this or no you can't touch that. they knew everybody going have to give a little bit here in order make this work. and, unfortunately, some of that line-drawing is what we're seeing around here that we've got to find a way to get past. mr. udall: i would comment on two elements of what my colleague just alluded to. let's talk about sfnlgt there are those of us in our party who have said, keep your hands off sfnlgt senator bennet and i know what a strong and important program social security has been. it's allowed me and my wife to raise our children, and my parents were treated with dignity in their later years. but if you think that social security on paper is solvent, ought to think again.
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there's $3 trillion owed to the fund by the federal government. and, yes, social security isn't responsible for that shortfall because we've taken those dollars and put them into the general fund but that $3 trillion is going to have to come from somewhere. there's some commonsense fixes that we can put in place now that would protect and presearchedz strengthen sfnlgt on the other hand, we hear in the chamber that tax revenues -- or ref niewrks i should say, more aproptly, are off the table. every economist and every observer points out that you can't get there from here, there being a balanced federal budget. ia can't we start, as the bowls simpson commission proposed, eliminating many of the subsidies and loopholes and special deals in our tax code that total something over $1 trillion? that's a great place to start. if you follow that with tax reform, lower rates for corporations and businesses, that's an even bigger step that we could taifnlgt i think
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there's broader agreement in the chamber, at least certain any our conversations, with people across the country who represent their states. those are some commonsense steps forward. mr. bennet: we will, i completely agree. and why we wouldn't want to look at our tax code and regulatory code. i hear about that from the other side. i share their view. listen, i was a school sciewpt for almost four years. if you think i don't understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of well-intentioned legislation from washington, d.c., that by the time it get to a school or classroom makes no cent all, believe me, i lived it every single day. why wouldn't we look at our tax code and regulatory code and ask ourselves, are these things more or less likely to drive innovation in the united states? are they more or less likely, these aspects of it, to grow our economy and create jobs in it is clear that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world now.
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used to be second, but japan either changed theirs or is about to change theirs. and that's sending a very u uncompetitive message to the world. on the other hand, we have some special interest loopholes that underlie the tax code that we're not actually getting the revenue that we would be suggesting. it is the worst of all possible words because we're send out an anticompetitive message to the world that says we're closed for business and we have a whole bunch of loopholes that may or may not and you suspect in many cases do not drive innovation here in this country. in fact, most of them are looking backward into the 20th century. they may have made sense in the middle of the 20th century, but they don't necessarily make sense to build new industries here, to develop things like new energy economy that's so important to our state, which by the way would help lead us toward energy independence from
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the persian gulf. i mean, there's no reason to think that all these things that have been, you know, written down are written in stone and frankly our job is to make sure that it's working better for people. so i think the debt and deficit commission made some excellent recommendations on that side of thifnlings the other side is on personal income tax. you know what they said there washings hey, we can actually lower rates and raise more revenue. why? because there are so many deductions that are part of the code and you know only 30% of the people in this country itemize, get the benefit of those deductions. you can imagine a world where everybody gets the benefit of a lower rate but we're able to have revenue to drive us forward. we can get there. you know, the thing on the debt and deficit commission is that tom coburn, who's one of the most conservative members of this body -- i don't think he'd mind my saying that -- and dick
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durbin, one of the most liberal members of this body, both voted for that deficit and debt commission report. that's almost good enough for me. that's almost good enough for me. mr. udall: i was proud of the senate when five of the six senators on the commission voted for the bowls-simpson recommendations, not without some concerns, not without some interest in working to flush out the plan. but five of the six senators from across the political spectrum said this is a very good startingpoint. mr. bennet: i see we're joined by senator coons from delaware. and i'm going to stop. but, you know, just along that line, just to giver people some optimism that are here in the chamber or that might be watching, just two weeks ago we took a vote on one subsidy, an ethanol subsidy. i think it was senator coburn and senator feinstein who put it on the floorks a democrat and a
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republican, and it got like 73 votes. i get in trouble with my kids. it wasn't "like" 73 votes. it was 73 votes -- to end that subsidy. and, by the way, there were i think around 40 democrats and 30-some republicans that supported that. we need more of that around here. and i think if we keep work at it, keep chipping away at it, we're going to be able to see in the end common schens actua senl actually prevail over politics. mr. udall: senator coons, would you care to share your thoughts with the senate? mr. coons: mr. president, the two senators from colorado have, i think, inspired me to come to the floor and join them in a colloquy about the challenges facing our country. and to the senators from colorado, i am pleased and impressed with their leadership and have greatly enjoyed serving
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with them to date. i agree that the vote on one of our tax expenditures, on the ethanol subsidy, was an encourage and inspiring moment because we saw both democrats and republicans from all over the country casting a vote to end a tax expenditure, a subsidy, that many would argue has outlived its usefulness in the crentsz marketplace. in my home state we recently saw the bankruptcy of our second-largest poultry company. there are lots of folks on both sides of that particular gaivment i think the larger point that's important to get to is certainty in the markets. i spent a number of years in the private sector, in business before running for and being elected to office. and i know the mantra that senator bennet is well-familiar with, senator udall is well-familiar with both parties are well-familiar with, is that certainty is what the markets look for. certainty is also what the
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people look for. i think we have alarmed them, concerned them by not being able to reach a broad, bipartisan, responsible plan that lays how the a framework for how it is we're going to address both the nation's record deficits and record debt. our debt today, as you know, is roughly $14 trillion. our deficit has hit an all-time record and we're work on borrowed time. i've heard some suggest that we need to better understand the situation we're in. the situation we're in, i believe, is that we are about to risk defaulting on america's mortgage. we've made commitments as a nation. we've expended ourselves at home and abroad in a lot of different ways, and i'm worried that we are on the verge of failing to meet our commitments, just as america's households really hesitate before ever defaulting on their mortgage, i think we as a nation, as a people, have to hesitate, have to think deeply
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about the consequences of it. i asked the folks who work with me on economic policy to quantify it. they looked at a number of different studies around the country and gave me some chilling numbers. should we fail to meet the a august 2nd deadline that secretary geithner has rachettedly since january in writing and -- repeatedly since january in writing and in testimony told us is the last date by which we can reach a bipartisan compromise and a way forward, we'll lose hundreds of thousands of jobs. the markets may lose as much as 10% of their value, which would mean loss of almost $1 trillion of market equity value. that means that pension funds, 401(k)'s, personal savings would take an enormous hit. the average homeowner would see an increase in the costs of whether it is their credit cards, or mortgages, or car loans. it is easy to think this is an abstract problem. but in reality, i think the problem that we're causing, the
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lack of confidence in the markets could have a sudden, sharp, grinding effect on our economic world. and that's because investors act more like animals than they do like machines. and when spooked, they act the way herds do and they run off in a certain direction. and my concern is that we are so used as a country to have a aaa bond rating to being the world's reserve currency, to being the gold standard for the most safe and most secure investment. i am gravely concerned that intransigence, an unwillingness to come to a reasonable compromise is putting us at real risk of putting our rating at risk as a country. at the end of the day, i've observed some things about how washington works so far that really worry me. if i could offer a metaphor, it seems to me there is a lot of sacred cows here. it seems to me that the trillions of dollars that we spend in our tax code through
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fax loopholes and special tax provisions and the trillions that we spend through direct spending are broken up into these sacred cows, and i feel as if i've gone into dairy. i feel as if i'm surrondessed by a whole herd of sacred cows and what we need is a deliberate and cleareyed bipartisan effort to thin the herd here, to make some tough choices. as i know the senator bennet said previously, i want to commend the hard work of the gang of circumstance the so-called gang of six, the gang that came up with the processes and a way forward, the bowls simpson commission that presented to us a proposal. there are paths forward. there are ways to make these tough choices. i hope that before the time runs out that this body will embrace these proposals, make the tough choices and the sacrifices we need to, come to the center, and lay out a path. i frankly don't think we've got
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until august 2. i think if we're going to put at risk the markets, i think frankly the time line may be more like the middle of july. it is my hope, mr. president, that the senators from colorado will be joined by senators from both sides of this body and both sides of this capitol in crafting a responsible bipartisan solution. mr. udall: the senator, in effect, is saying that rather than this being a problem, although it is, this is an enormous opportunity for the country to chart a new course. if we agree to do it first and foremost as americans -- not as democrats -- the presiding officer: the senators have spoken collectively for 30 minutes. mr. udall: we thank the chair for that notification. we look forward to next week continuing this conversation. mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from delaware for joining myself and senator bennet in this discussion this afternoon. mr. coons: mr. president, i would like to express my gratitude to the senators from colorado for allowing me to join themed and look forward to
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continuing this conversation. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, in waiting to speak, i have had the opportunity to listen to my colleagues from across the aisle speak. and while my purpose here is to speak on another subject, i do want to say that what we have just heard over the last 30-some minutes from three democrat senators -- and i think others are plan ising to speak als plao that what was heard from a number of republicans regarding the necessity to address the serious issue of debt and deficit and how we're going to proceed to try to deal with this question before we run into a swigs of national default with consequences we can't begin to imagine, i think it's appropriate to say that there is
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bipartisan support for serious debate and discussion. i was disappointed obviously -- in fact i was more than disappointed. i was very frustrated yesterday with the president's press conference when he essentially said congress is not doing its job. and that comparing to what was being done here was like raising children, undisciplined children, that couldn't do their homework. he not only targeting the opposition, which is campaign rhetoric -- of course this is disappointing at a time when we shouldn't even be thinking about the election of 2012 and focusing on any kind of campaign rhetoric. we ought to be thinking and working to address the crisis before us that is now, that is going to have implications for every american now. and if we don't come to an
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agreement on how to proceed before august 2, we're going to see how the financial markets react to what we have not been able to do. but to suggest that we haven't been doing anything and that the congress needs to take the lead, i think, goes even against the president's own thoughts when he was a member of this body. i want to just quote from a statement that he made when president obama was senator obama. and that quote states the following: the fact that we are here today to debate raising america's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. increasing america's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. leadership means that the buck stops here. instead washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today on to the backs of our children and grandchildren. america has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. americans deserve better. yes, americans do deserve better, but obviously that famous sign that used to be on
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the desk of harry truman when he was president "the buck stops here" has been taken off that presidential desk and shifted over to the responsibility of the congress. and we do have a responsibility. but it's fair to say and accurate to say that without presidential leadership, no matter what we do here will not become law, will not become affected because the president needs to be engaged in supporting what we do. otherwise, it won't become law. now, i think most of the american public, based on the inferences that were made yesterday by the president in his press conference, think that republicans are on one side and democrats are on another side, and they don't see the problem the same way. i think what we just heard here is that eloquent speeches and important speeches from both republicans and now just democrats indicate that there are adults here -- not just children -- that we have been
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working hard ever since day one of this session to try to address a train wreck that we see coming. first it was estimateed to come on may 16 and now august 2. bought a little bit of time, i guess. but the clock is ticking and we see a train wreck coming, and we're trying to do something about it. and there are serious people making serious efforts to have serious dialogue and debate as to how we best go forward in the interest of our country and not in the interest of the 2012 election. in the interest of our grandchildren and children and not in the interest of our political careers. i came back to the senate for one reason and one reason only, that i was not going to stand idly by and watch this congress because our generation, my generation be the first generation to hand our children a debt and deficit, problems that they -- a hole they could never dig out of and they could not enjoy all the benefits that
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my generation has had through peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed. it is clear -- and i'm not here to go through all the statistics. i've made several speeches on this topic and we hear this on the floor every day. there are so many facts in support of the need to take serious efforts to address this serious problem. there's so much handwriting on the wall, the wall's about to collapse. economists from the conservative side to the liberal side and everybody in between; analysts, others, financial markets and so forth are taking action and saying that we need here to take action. we see governors, democrats and republicans across this country in various states taking actions that need to be taken. i'm proud of what we've done in the state of indiana in the last six years under the leadership of governor daniels. we have balanced our budget, dug
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out from a deep deficit left by his predecessor. we have a triple-a credit rating. we've made some tough choices. we've had to cut and slash government jobs. interestingly enough, hoosiers aren't exactly what we're missing. there was a lot of bloat and excess there. we made tough choices and paid a financial price for it. but we're in better shape today than we've been in maybe a long, long time as a result of taking these actions. and we see countries around the world having to belly up to the fact that they have overspent, overpromised and have a state that has promised more than it delivered. and yet the united states of america, which should be the leader of this effort in terms of getting its economy in shape, it's a place where the dollar was sound and the place to invest your money anywhere in the world and know it was the safest place, all that's now
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become in question. and i've been a part of these talks across the aisle. the two senators from colorado who just spoke, the senator from delaware who just spoke and others are taking this seriously. they're not putting their political fortunes ahead of the necessity to deal with these issues. they are saying that more important, what transcends politics, what transcends reelection is the fact that we have a serious crisis that has to be dealt with now and tough choices have to be made. and we're talking in earnest behind closed doors, working in open sessions and closed sessions, trying to fashion an appropriate response. but without the president's leadership, no matter what we do, no matter package we put together, we cannot succeed. and so it appears that the president has decided to engage in politics of 2012 elections.
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that's very disappointing. i hope that's not the case. i hope this shift that we have seen here from needing to get involved to what's wrong with you guys and women, it's just a temporary lapse. now, you know, when you get frustrated, it's easy to say childish things, and that's why i waited overnight so i wouldn't come down here to be characterized as someone who says childish things. our problems that we face are too serious for us not to take it seriously. i too believe we can fashion a plan that is in the best interest of the american people and the future of america, but we can't do it by pointing fingers at each other and we can't do it without presidential leadership. and right now the one missing element is presidential leadership. as has been said before, the
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president was inviteed to come and meet with us today and to talk to us about the seriousness of this issue. we're willing to demonstrate to him that our doors are open and we're willing to go there. but it takes a commitment on both sides in order to accomplish that. instead, i guess a couple of fund-raisers were scheduled, one in philadelphia and one in las vegas. apparently that takes precedence. so i think the president's words were pretty hollow. mr. president, i came down here to talk about another issue, and i'd like to do that now. our focus, our necessary focus on the economic situation and what we need to do in the impending debt crisis that we're facing should take precedence here, but we can't overlook the fact that we have serious issues on an international level that will have an impact on our country in the future. those of us that are here have the responsibility not only to
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deal with our fiscal issues and domestic issues, but with international and security and foreign policy issues. i'd hoped to speak tomorrow on this because it's the first anniversary of the comprehensive iran sanctions accountability and divestment act that was passed by an overwhelming majority, bipartisan majority in the last congress. in fact, the vote in the senate here was 99-0. this act expanded sanctions on the iranian regime as it continues its quest for nuclear weapons capability. clearly more needs to be done, and i was here to talk about that and the implications of that, but i needed to say something about what's happened here in the previous 24 hours that's been so disconcerting to not only to me, but to the american people, and i think to both republicans and democrats who are trying to take a serious effort at the problems that we
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face. put on the back burner because of all this discussion is this question about iran and where it's going and what it's -- its future is headed toward and what the middle east and the consequences of what a nuclear iran will be. this month my colleagues and i, because we feel these sanctions have not accomplished the goal intended, that there needs to be even tougher sanctions against iran. we've introduced the iran and north korea consolidation act of 2007 that further tightens the noose on the iranian regime. we need strong support from this body and collective efforts to prevent a nuclear iran and to explain why i believe this work is of such dramatic work to our
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nation. the potential consequences in the middle east, both positive and negative of that movement captured our attention. those of us who care passionately about the future of the middle east and understand the consequences to our national security as a consequence of that, whether it's economic security because of energy resources we get from the middle east or whether it's diplomatic security or just national security in terms of conflict that potentially draws us into that effort, all of this is at stake. we're hoping, of course, that the democratic instinks of the arab -- instincts of the arab spring will develop. but we look at this with a mixture of both hope and concern. the democratic impulse in the region has not yet brought meaningful change to the iranian people who continue to suffer under an auto cratic, savage and ruthless regime. as that regime continues to
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crush every plea for greater democratic liberties it pursues its provisions for nuclear weapons capability. welcome signs of democratic progress elsewhere in the region must not deflect our attention from the growing danger in iran. three american presidents, including this current president, have declared that a nuclear weapons capable iran is unacceptable. to give meaning to that repeated commitment to do whatever is necessary to prevent iran from gaining that dangerous capability remains an urgent and highly significant matter facing the united states and international security. the consequences of a nuclear iran or a nuclear weapons-capable iran are not tolerable, not acceptable and need to motivate the most powerful, effective efforts possible to prevent that from happening. the nuclear armed iran would threaten the entire region and its enormous energy resources. it would motivate broad nuclear
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proliferation throughout the middle east. it would further destabilize the region already in turmoil. it would encourage radicalism and terrorism, and it would threaten the destruction of the state of israel. this last danger alone, the potential destruction, the declared destruction of the nation of israel, thatlone potentially raises the danger to which israel is the last resort, but almost certainly we have to respond to to ensure its survival. that alone compels us to be clear-eyed and determined to find a solution before we have to face that potential decision. i've been work ~ing in recent years in the bipartisan policy center to press for a robust, comprehensive three-track effort to raise the stakes on the iranian regime and to compel it to live up to its limits in the weapons program. the first track we proposed was
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enhanced diplomatic efforts. people say why diplomatic efforts? that just is going nowhere. look, we felt we needed to enhance those efforts to, at least give that a clans so that -- a chance so that those who would say sanctions should not be imposed until you try diplomatic efforts, okay, let's continue to give that a short but let's do that in parallel with some of these other approaches. this enhanced diplomatic effort where we create, invigorate and motivate an international coalition devoted to the same objective, to prevent iran from gaining nuclear weapons, has been tried and it has not succeeded. now, this effort doesn't mean simply repeated outreaches to the iranian regime to engage them in dialogue. the obama administration came into office promising such discussions, but this has gone nowhere. international talks in geneva last year accomplished nothing. talks in turkey earlier this year broke down in the afternoon of the very first day.
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clearly lack of any flexibility and goodwill on behalf of the iranian regime has dissuaded any further attempt to renew dialogue efforts. dialogue with the iranians is in a deep -- the presiding officer: the senator has used his ten minutes. mr. coats: mr. president, i wasn't aware that i had asked for ten minutes. there was -- the presiding officer: the order is for ten minutes. the senator has consumed more than 15 minutes. mr. coats: that's news to me. i would ask unanimous consent for an additional five minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. coats: mr. president, i'm just trying to see here how i can wrap this up. i'll check with the desk next time i speak to make sure i understand what the -- what the current rules are here. i might ask, mr. president, is there an order in place that i'm not aware of?
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the presiding officer: the order is that we are in morning business with 10 minutes to be consumed by each senator. mr. coats: all right. i apologize, mr. president. the presiding officer: although consent has been given for larger blocks of time and the senator has just been given consent. mr. coats: all right. thank you, mr. president. as i said, the second track for solutions are sanctions. we currently have sanction act in place. we want to impose an additional sanction track. that's why i have sponsored and cosponsored this new act. the enact of this i think could potentially be significant, but so far we have not seen success as a result of sanctions. since the international community first began to face this challenge in the form of iaea inspections and reports, various u.s. security council sanctions and resolutions and protracted negotiations to construct an effective coalition strong enough to have meaning, none of these actions have
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seriously thwarted the iranian regime's nuclear ambitions. that takes us to the third track of a comprehensive approach. those of us on the bipartisan policy commission in terms of -- in working with experts on all sides of this issue came to the conclusion that certain military options can be put in place that will serve serious and open discussion -- deserve serious and open discussion and diplomacy and sanctions since they have proven too weak, we need an extra kick to this process in order to achieve the desired result. i'm suggesting discussion and debate and dialogue, no one should suppose that including a military option in this package means anything other than preparing the ground for the logical, necessary access to measures of last resort should they be needed. through the bipartisan policy
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center, we have participated in an exhaustive analysis of all the means and consequences of potential military action against iran's nuclear weapons program. there were no war advocates in that room, none of us. nevertheless, if it's true that a nuclear weapons-capable iran is unacceptable, then our nation and the international community as a whole must see with vivid clarity what measures remain should the first two tracks fail, and the iranian regime shus be especially clear-eyed and nondilutional about those potential consequences should it not change its behavior. indeed, to give the diplomatic and sanctions tracks the essential credibility they require, the military option must be entirely believable, in fact inevitable. military options themselves include a multi-pronged comprehensive strategy, not all of which are kinetic or mean an actual attack with armed forces.
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such a strategy would include producting the alliances needed to station u.s. forces in position to confront iran and then a series of steps designed to demonstrate to iran that the united states and its coalition partners are capable of decisive military action, if necessary to stop its nuclear program. at the end of the day we have to decide whether or not we will tolerate an iran with nuclear weapons. if other states including importantly china and russia really become convinced of this core reality, they will make different calculations about their own self-interests in this matter. if they come to believe that we so desperately need them to accept modest sanctions on iran, then they can compel us to take off the table the sanction proposals with real teeth. we have become hostage to their views in this vital issue and also to their related economic interests. so if these and other states come to realize that, when we say unacceptable, we need it.
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they will come to different conclusions about how their own interests can be best served. in conclusion, mr. president, a nuclear weapons-capable iran that we believe can be contained is not one that we're therefore prepared to tolerate. if we think that we can solve this problem through debt limit efforts and sanctions, we have not been able to do so and the likelihood of doing so diminishes as every day goes by and the nuclear clock keeps ticking in iran. this is an illusion and one that makes our task much harder. if others, however, especially iran but also including our allies and other coalition partners come to believe that we would consider tolerating a nuclear iran because it can somehow be contained, then none of this will work. the result then will not be a contained and tolerated nuclear iran. it will be the military's action we all hope to avoid, whether it is ours or another's. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. i came to the floor this afternoon to lend my voice to the others who have been here of my colleagues to talk about the need to come to the table and come up with an agreement about how we're going to deal with raising the debt limit by the august 2 deadline and include some sort of package to address our debt and our deficits. and i listened carefully to my colleague and friend from indiana, and i think we agree on a lot of what he said. i certainly agree that both sides of the aisle have been working hard to look at ways that we can address this issue, and i agree that we need presidential leadership. to address this challenge we're facing. that's why i was so pleased to see the president come out yesterday and say very strongly that in order to address this, we're going to have to put
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revenues on the table, make sure they are in the mix, because we can't get there without looking at revenues with just looking at cuts to the budget. so i think there is a lot of agreement, but every negotiation that i have been part of means that every side has to give a little. so drawing a line in the sand and saying we're not going to look at revenues at the same time we're looking at spending cuts, it's not the way for us to solve this challenge. now, we all know that negotiations are ongoing between the president and between the leadership in both the house and senate. they are looking at all kinds of measures to reduce the deficit and raise the legal debt limit. and there is no doubt that we have to address the long-term debt and deficits, and i have repeatedly called for a bipartisan package that includes reforms to everything that's
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deficit related, so that means domestic, defense and mandatory spending, as well as looking at revenues. and i support including deficit reduction measures in the vote to raise the debt limit. i believe that reducing the deficit is important to strengthening the long-term health of our economy. with that being said, failure to increase the debt limit would do exactly the opposite. it would devastate the economy. to be clear, raising the debt limit does not mean spending more. it means meeting our existing obligations. obligations made by both parties over many years. failure to raise the debt limit means default. it means for the first time in the history of the united states of america, we would not pay our creditors, and that disruption would cause the worldwide
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economy to have devastating consequences, consequences that would be incredibly expensive to american taxpayers. warren buffett i think said it very well when he said that congress, if it did that, it would be the most as a -- most as nine act ever. fed chairman ben bernanke said it would cause severe reactions in the markets, it would slow our require and make the deficit problem worse. the u.s. chamber of commerce says it absolutely must be done, the debt limit must be raised. economist and former reagan advisor larry cudlow said default would be -- quote -- "catastrophic." all of these experts have pointed out that the disruption to world financial markets would plunge us into another financial crisis and america would lose the trust of world investors which would result in higher borrowing costs for the government, and that would
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ultimately be borne by taxpayers. it would also mean higher interest rates for consumers, making it more expensive to buy a house, pay for college or even pay your credit card bill, and in a recent report, the nonpartisan congressional research service estimated that if we don't raise the debt limit, the federal government would have to eliminate all spending on discretionary programs, cut nearly 70% of spending for programs like social security and medicare or increase taxes by more than 60%. that's not just speculation. that is what will happen if we fail to raise the debt limit. we should not be playing politics with this issue. we all have a stake in making sure this gets done. and that's why it makes no sense to me that the leadership from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are refusing to
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entertain any discussion about eliminating any tax loopholes. i think it's important to highlight some of those tax loopholes, and there are two that i want to talk about that have been mentioned on the floor in the last couple of days, and i would think these are the kind of tax loopholes we ought to be closing. first, we have a special deduction for yacht owners, and if the yacht is big enough, like this picture of this yacht, -- so if it has beds and a bathroom and a kitchen, thoroughbred yacht owners can claim it as a second home and they can get the same mortgage interest deduction on their taxes that we give to middle-class homeowners. i think this is a clear abuse of the tax code. the mortgage deduction provision is meant to increase homeownership, not yacht ownership. there are as many as half a million yachts in the u.s. that
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qualify for this exemption, and the yacht industry actually includes this tax loophole in their marketing. now, the second loophole that, again, has been mentioned before on the floor is a tax break for racehorse owners. the current tax code allows racehorse owners to depreciate the cost of their horizon at an accelerated rate. yachts and racehorses. these are tax breaks that just don't make sense. we all know we're grappling with a truly historic long-term deficits. to continue to ignore the revenue side of that deficit is irresponsible. and our tax code is riddled with hundreds of arbitrary tax breaks just like the one for racehorses and the one for yachts. in fact, we give away more in
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tax breaks in a year than we take in through individual and corporate income taxes. these tax breaks are too often granted based on who has the most cloud in congress rather than based on what's the best for the economy or what's fair for people in this country. and so the result is that some businesses are paying nearly the full corporate tax rate while others are paying almost nothing. we need a fairer system. we need a tax system that drives innovation and that keeps our economy competitive on the global stage. do we really want to continue supporting tax breaks for yachts and for racehorses? if we want to eliminate waste in government, isn't this exactly the kind of spending that we should be targeting? and last, we must consider the price of refusing to deal with these tax breaks, of refusing to
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say we're going to look at these kinds of tax breaks because we know that meaningful deficit reform will mean trillions of dollars in changes, and in avoiding revenues, republicans have instead proposed steep cuts that are dangerous both to the health of the american people and to the strength of our economy. eliminating funding for basic women's health care, ending medicare as we know it, dangerous pets to nursing home care, slashing pell grants that would help train the next generation of engineers, stopping the development of new energy technologies and halting efforts to retool the economy to compete in the 21st century, these are the alternatives that republicans are proposing to save tax breaks for yachts and racehorses. now, we know we need to continue these kinds of basic services and investments in the economy.
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the president's bipartisan commission has said it, the business community has said it, and americans know it. we also know that finding a compromise on the debt limit is critical if we want to avoid plunging our economy back into chaos, and we know that many of these tax breaks just don't make sense. so i urge my colleagues let's look at the facts, let's work together for what we all know needs to happen. reduce the deficit, raise the debt limit and keep america working. thank you very much, mr. president, and i ask if senator jack reed from rhode island could follow me. i ask consent that senator reed be the next speaker on our side. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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without objection, so ordered. mr. reed: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i request permission to speak as in morning business. are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are in morning business.
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we are in morning business and the senator recognized. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, the bills from a decade of ineffective tax cuts and unpaid wars and a recession fueled by lax regulation have come due. i did not support the policies that generated these bills, but prpretending these bills don't have to be paid is not an option. indeed, playing chicken literally with the full faith and credit of the united states government is a recipe for disaster. if the u.s. defaults on its de debt, every single expert tells us it will have a huge and immediate impact on the lives of every american all across this country, from the poorest to the most well-off. and particularly for those who are struggling, it will be devastating at a time when they
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can least afford it. and not only could it cause a stoppage of social security and vet rabveterans benefits che bue more -- checks, but more systematically, it would undermine our nation's opportunity to build a lasting and more prosperous recovery. we have seen some progress but it's not enough. this step, if we default, would seriously undermine our ability to function as an economy and would seriously, perhaps decisively, affect our ability to mount and continue to mount a reasonable recovery. we are still recovering from the worst depression since the 1930's, many of it based on the policies that i mentioned previously. two unfunded wars, the expansion of an entitlement program that was unpaid for, deep tax cuts that were unpaid for, all of it put on the tab.
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and the tab is coming due. but now to suggest that we walk away from our obligation to provide at least the legal means to pay our debts is i think irresponsible. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle like to talk about taking a scalpel to wasteful spending and about the primacy of severely curtailing investments in our society. they continue to talk about an economic philosophy that i think has been disproven by the last several years, particularly from 2000, when president bush and a republican congress inherited a projected multitrillion-dollar surplus, and turned it into a huge deficit, under the premise that these types of cuts in taxes, these types of policies would stimulate jobs. in fact, there's been talk that
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we're now focusing on cutting spending on medicare and medicaid, which is so central to -- to all americans. it's difficult also to imagine that they're asking for these cuts at a time when so many families throughout this country are struggling, struggling to stay in their homes, struggling simply to pay the bills each week, struggling to ensure that their children can continue on to education. all of this needs a government that supports these americans, not reneges on commitments we've made, particularly commitments we've made financially to essentially pay for the obligation as that have been run up, particularly beginning in 2000 and continuing through the bush administration. now, we all understand that we have to reach a principled
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compromise, but in that compromise, as so many of my colleagues have suggested, an exclusive focus on cutting expenditures will not get us there, i think simply based on the arithmetic. but more than that, it will impose huge burdens on families that are struggling and it will continue to reward the most prosperous in this nation. that i don't think is the right way to do it or the fair way to do it. the priorities that i've heard expressed on the other side is continue to talk about very deep tax cuts at a time when we have the lowest revenues we've had in decades and then talk about cutting expenditures: education, health care, and, indeed, under their proposed budget, medicare and medicaid, which is so central to so many people. mr. reed: we know that we have to focus on not just
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expenditures but also revenues and we also have to begin the very dispil arduous tact -- very difficult and arduous task of entitlement reform. we began that i in the last congress. in fact i think it is ironic, as i recall the debate on the affordable care act, that most of the amendments that my colleagues on the other side were offering were to send back to committee proposed changes in medicare that would have reduced costs and i would argue would actually improve quality. that was their focus. and now their focus has suddenly shifted to, oh, we must cut medicare, we must cut medicaid. what we have to do is i think provide the same kind of reasonable, balanced approach that took place in the 1990's, again without any republican support in 1993 and 1994 but with a democratic president and democratic votes we were able to
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begin to balance the budget. it was a multiyear process. it required difficult choices. but we have to continue to pursue that path of balanced, reasonable response to this problem. now, as i said before, one of the issues that is so central to this country is not directly related just to the issue of the deficit. it's also related to jobs. they are obviously closely interrelated. the more jobs we have, the more people that are participating in the economy, the better our fiscal position is in washington. and, sadly, what we saw, particularly at the tail end of the bush administration, is a collapse on our jobs market. the u.s. economy lost 8.7 million private-sector jobs in 2008 and 2009. we experienced under the bush administration principally 25 consecutive months of job loss
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losses. and that again has contributed to these huge deficits. people don't work, they don't contribute to the -- to the tax s. people don't work, they get -- to the tax system. people don't work, they get unemployment benefits. people who lose part of their wages qualify for other progra programs. now, since the president's come to office, we have seen a rebound. we have not seen the full robust recovery we need but we've seen a rebound. we gained 2.081 million jobs, a little over 2 million jobs, in 2010 and 2011, and we've experienced 15 consecutive months of private-sector job creation. not enough but we reversed the collapse and 25 months of job decline by creating jobs and continuing on a sustained basis. and as a result of difficult
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decisions that were made by president obama and the democratic congress in the recovery act. my home state of rhode island has particularly hard-hit by the policies that we saw in the first part of this decade. third-highest unemployment rate at 10.9%. we've seen foreclosure problems. we have seen very, very crippling impacts on the working families of rhode island. but now we hear that the only solution we have and the best way to correct jobs is to continue to do what was done under the bush administration, let's just cut taxes, particularly for the wealthiest americans. now, the evidence suggests that that doesn't produce the kind of jobs, not even the kind of jobs we've seen in the last 15 months. the economy did not add a single new job during the three years under the bush tax cuts. the economy had 132 million jobs in june of 2001, when we passed,
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against my op silings, the bush tax -- my opposition, the bush tax cut. that was the month it was first signed into law. three years later, in june of 2004, there were just 131.4 million jobs. we actually lost some jobs. if we take a step back and look at the course of the entire bush presidency from january 2001-january 2009, there was a decline in the number of private-sector jobs of approximately 650,000. that's over the course of the whole administration. in fact, the only net job creation that occurred was in the public sector. nearly 1.75 million government jobs were created over the course of the bush presidency. revenue as a percentage of our economy, as a percentage of g.d.p., was 14% in 2010. it's the lowest level since 19 50, when it dropped to 14.4%. by comparison, government revenue was averaging about 18%
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over the previous 30 years. so you see under bush policies, which essentially my colleagues want to emulate, reconstitute, no job growth and a significant decline in revenue. at a time when revenues to g.d.p. is the lowest it's been in 60 years, now we're talking about further tax cuts in the ryan budget, but we're certainly talking -- my colleagues are talking about maintaining the current tax system. and, frankly, there are so many tax expenditures that my colleagues talked about that are not worthy of retention, that are loopholes that we can, in fact, eliminate and we should. some examples. tax breaks for people who breed alpacas, deductions for film and tv production, favorable tax depreciation for racehorse owners, horse breeders, exemption for wool and -- wooden
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practice arrows used by children, nascar motorsports racing facility tax credit, and withholding tax breaks on horse and dog track winning. and the list could go on and on and on. the presiding officer: the senator has used his ten minutes. mr. reed: mr. president, i request unanimous consent for one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, and i thank the gentleman, the senator from illinois, for his deference. we understand that we have to make tough choices. they have to include expenditure cuts, and we've already started with the continuing resolution for last year. we'll reduce spending significantly. but we have to have revenue on the table. as federal reserve chairman bernanke said, a sharp fiscal consolidation focused on the very near term could be self-defeating if it were to undercut the still fragile recovery. we need to create jobs. we need to balance deficit reduction with job creation. we need to put everything on the table. and we need to recognize that
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the consequences of default on our debt will be staggering, felt by every american. one figure that continues to be impressed upon me is the fact that for every 1% increase in the interest rate over the ten-year period, we increase our deficit by over a trillion dollars. and i think the first response to a default would be a rise in interest rates that we have to pay for our debt. so, mr. president, i would urge progress on the efforts to have a comprehensive solution. and i yield the floor. mr. kirk: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: mr. president, i ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator is in morning business. the senator is recognized. mr. kirk: thank you. mr. president, beyond the debt limit extension which has consumed rightly the attention of this body, we face another challenge and that is funding for our roads, our airports, and our railroads.
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our best estimate is that current needs would total $225 billion annually. but revenue from the main source of funding for these programs, the gasoline tax, only totals $90 billion. the law requires balance in that -- in the transportation trust fund, and so how would we respond? there are basically three major options. option one, let funding fall. but this would be a catastrophe, especially for the construction industry where already in my home state of illinois upwards of 30% of construction workers are without work. option two, kres increase the gs tax. but that is one of the most regressive taxes that hits the working poor harder than almost any other citizen in our country. and the slowdown in our economy as a result of a gas tax
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increase would probably cause unemployment to go up and could jeopardize our extremely fragile recovery. there is a third option, but before i describe the third option, let me ask a question. arguably, what is the third-biggest thing that the lincoln administration was known for? first would be the emancipation proclamation. second would be the victory in the civil war. but what's number three? i would argue it was the 1862 transcontinental railway act, enacted in 1862 when the lincoln administration was borrowing as much money as it could from as many creditors as possible to fund the expansion of the union army. with credit already stretching to the limit -- and does this sound familiar? -- the lincoln administration launched the largest infrastructure development program in the
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history of the united states. we built a 2,000-mile railroad in only six years and created 7,000 american towns, and we did it with only $50 million in appropriations. how did we fund the rest? and the answer was: this was the ultimate public-private partnership. i'm particularly worried in this congress, especially as it considers a transportation bill next year. have we forgotten our own economic legacy, especially from the time that we built one of the largest infrastructure development projects in history? to recall, the federal government granted 20 square miles o of alternating sectionsn either side of the railroad for every mile of track they laid to those railroads. railroads were also granted timber, stone, and mineral rights in addition for every mile of track they laid, the railroads were authorized to
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issue a set amount of bonds, loans t that they received with interest back from the federal government. this guaranteed 30-year bontsdzs to be issued at rate of 6%. this is one of the largest development projects in the history of the united states and that's why i think it is an example for how we respond to our transportation needs today. when we look at our own economic legacy and we look at the funding shortfall for new roads, new airports, and new rail, i think we should recover that legacy to respond to the challenges for next year. and that's why i've introduced the lincoln legacy infrastructure development act. this legislation removes a number of federal restrictions on public-private partnerships, providing states greater flexibility to generate transportation revenues and enhance access to private capital for road, rail, aviation, transit, and port
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infrastructure. under the lincoln legacy infrastructure development act, we could mobilize over $100 billion for new infrastructure investment. now, specifically, this legislation lifts caps on cost recovery programs for highways, it incentivizes partnerships in transit, it removes barriers to airport privatization, it increases resources for the transportation infrastructure finance and innovation act, sometimes called tifea, and makes improvements in the airport rehabilitation and refinancing program which are backed by the high-speed rail association and the american rail asoasmtion the legislation also stands on the premise that the taxpayer should be protected in these types of arrangements. indiana showed us what a properly-structured deal would look like. governor mitch daniels reaped a windfall from the 2006 lease of
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the indiana toll road that netted his state $3.8 billion for new transportation upgrades. most of the money has now been reinvested in highway projects throughout his state and leaders shrewdly placed $500 million in an interest-bearing account to fund future road projects. this is one of the many reasons why the indiana economy has grown as twice the rate of illinois economy. now, we have seen public-private partnerships take off not in our own country where they were almost invented but in other countries, especially british columbia, and australia, where they have mobilized over $30 billion for new transportation infrastructure, almost 20% of their total, using this innovative financing means. in these times of deficit and debt, we could let america grind to a halt, we could raise taxes
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and sock it to the working poor, we could slow down our economy with a new government burden, or we could recall our own economic legacy. written by abraham lincoln's administration itself to use public-private partnerships as a way of growing jobs and incomes in the united states without increasing taxes. i would urge this body to review this legislation as we come up with a new transportation bill and to see it as a way to improve jobs, incomes, and the our infrastructure, so critical to the crossroads of the nation in illinois and doing it in a way that doesn't hurt our economy or the working poomplet and with that, mr. president, i yield back. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, we must raise the debt ceiling,
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period. this is not an opinion. it is a fact. the consequences of failing to act are simply too catastrophic to consider any other course. negotiations are now under way seeking an agreement to raise the debt ceiling as part of a larger agreement on deficit reduction. there is a major obstacle to agreement: a refusal on the part of the republican leadership to compromise, a refusal to understand that sacrifice must be shared. the sacrifice they say must come from middle america, those struggling to pay for a college education or for health care for their kids or long-term care for their parents. the republican leaders demand that this sacrifice be made by the middle class in order to protect bush tax cuts and other tax breaks for the wealthiest
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among us, despite the huge and growing gap in the distribution of income in our country between the wealthy and the middle class. now, just one example of the kind of tax breaks and tax loopholes that we democrats seek to change is the unconscionable tax break given to hedge fund managers. hedge fund managers generally make their money by charging their clients two fees. first, the manager receives a management fee, typically equal to 2% of the assets invested. second, the manager typically receives 20% of the income from those investments above a certain level. this 20% share of the investment returns from hedge funds is known as "carried interest." under current law, most hedge fund managers claim that this carried interest qualifies as a
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long-term capital gain. currently subject to a maximum tax rate of 15%, rather than being taxed as ordinary income, currently subject to a maximum tax rate of 35%. but a moment's analysis shows that this money is not ordinary income by any fair definition and should be treated that way. the 20% fee is not capital gains because it applies not to capital that the hedge fund manager has invested but to the payment he receives for investing capital that other people provide. pretending that the 20% fee is capital gain when in fact it is payment for a service is an alice in wonderland argument that elevates fiction over fact.
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now, we democrats seek to end this fiction. we are ready to call carried interest what it is: ordinary taxable income. recognizing carried interest for what it is would increase tax fairness for working americans who pay their share and their fair share of tassments they have the right to expect that the wealthy do the same, and it would reduce the deficit if we did this by an estimated $21 billion. republicans seek to protect this loophole. they say the income of investment managers is at risk from year to year and, therefore, deserving of a lower tax rate. well, mr. president, ask the factory worker who just saw his or her job move overseas, ask the store cloark who saw his employer close because of the damage from the financial crisis, ask the part-time worker
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whose hours and earnings go up and down from week to week -- ask all of them just how much risk working americans face right now. now, republicans say taxing this income as ordinary income would discourage investment and job creation and that's be a sumpled the people who are actually risking their capital, investors in these funds, will continue to see their profits taxed at the lower capital gains rate. the issue in this case is income that these managers receive for serving their clients. if you are a hedge fund manager, your job is to manage a hedge fund. the income you receive for that job is no different than the income a waitress receives for waiting tables or a janitor receives for scrubbing floors. the idea that the income of millionaire fund managers should be taxed at a lower rate than that of their staff or of other workers is an absurdity.
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and this nonsensical loophole is deeply unfair at a time when working families are struggling while the wealthiest among us continue to prosper greatly. recent decades have seen a massive and growing prosperity gap between ordinary americans and the wealthy. how wide is that gap to become? in 1980, the top 1% of american earners took home about 10% of our nation's total income. just a few decades later, that figure had increased to 24% of our nation's total income. and that's just the wealthiest 1% that have now over 20% of our total income. it's hard to argue that properly taxing their income will impose great hardship on investment fund managers who have done awfully well in recent years.
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now, how well have those investment fund managers done? according to a survey by a magazine covering the hedge fund industry, the top 25 hedge fund managers earn $22.7 billion last year. the two managers atop the list earned $8 billion each. ,000 thousand, that's billion with a "b." well, the typical american household earned perhaps $60,000 or $62,000 in 2008. those hedge fund managers earned in about four minutes what it took a typical working family a year to earn, yet they paid drastically lower rate ons those massive incomes than the low-wage workers who clean their offices. now, the republicans would protect these unconscionable tax breaks while at the same time wanting to cut programs which provide education for our kids,
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provide health care for our seniors. it gets worse. adding insult to injury, republicans are protecting another tax loophole, one that many of these hedge fund managers, by the way, use to avoid taxes entirely. this loophole allows corporations and wealthy individuals to take income earned here and shift it to overseas tax havens, dodging the u.s. taxes that they rightly owe. i've long sought to end this abuse because these offshore tax havens increase the tax burden on those who pay the taxes they owe. in the last congress i introduced the stop tax haven abuse act which would steek recover lost tax revenue now lost to overshore tax dodging. ending this loophole is significant. if we seek to properly tax the income of hedge fund managers. in one hearing of t

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