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tv   U.S. Senate 11292017  CSPAN  November 29, 2017 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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expense side that we would be working on with the solutions before we arrive in 2018. >> voices from the state on c-span. >> the u.s. senate about to gavel end. senators will start the day with general speeches. awaiting senate action as a republican tax bill approved by the budget committee yesterday. . the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, king of kings, and lord of lords, thank you for this opportunity to boldly approach your throne of grace,
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finding help during life's challenging seasons. it is at your throne that we obtain mercy to sustain us through life's hardships. lord, we build these moments of silent anticipations into our day, aware of our need of you. be for our lawmakers their shelter in the time of storm. prepare them to meet whatever difficulties that may lurk in life's shadows, as they seek to cultivate an experiential relationship with you. give them the wisdom to persevere through tough times
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and never give up. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., november 29, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable joni ernst, a senator from the state of iowa, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to calendar number 165, s. 1519. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of s. 1519, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2018 for military activities of the department of defense, and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: madam president, during the last decade, hardworking american families have tried to get ahead, but they too often faced insurmountable barriers. the economy was sluggish, paychecks were stagnant, jobs and opportunities seemed literally out of reach. the people we represent deserve a whole lot better than that, and it's time for us to deliver. it's time to take our foot off the brake and get our economy going again and growing again. we can go that through tax reform. every american who has ever interacted with the i.r.s.
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already knows that our tax code is broken. rates are too high. the deductions and loopholes are too complex to understand, and it's too easy for well-connected elites to take advantage. passing tax reform is the single most important thing we can do right now to shift the economy into high gear and deliver much-needed relief to american families. the senate finance committee has developed a bill that is the result of literally years of work, dozens of hearings, and a full committee markup. i want to commend chairman hatch once again for his leadership of this committee and thank him for producing legislation to unleash the potential of our economy to create jobs and to keep them right here in america. throughout this process, we have kept middle-class families at the center of our efforts. we want to make our taxes lower, simpler, and fairer. that's why our plan will give
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the typical family of four with a median income a tax cut of close to $2,200 a year. a single parent raising his or her child on a modest income could also see a tax cut of nearly $1,400. these are real savings that can help families plan for their future and actually get ahead. the finance committee's tax reform proposal also provides substantial relief to small businesses. we want to make it easier for them to grow, to invest, and of course to hire. the bill will also remove incentives for corporations to shift jobs and investments overseas. finally our tax reform proposal delivers relief to low and middle-class americans by repealing obamacare's individual mandate tax. for too long, families have suffered under an unpopular tax from an unworkable law. repealing this obamacare tax will help those that need it most.
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yesterday, the senate budget committee under chairman mike enzi's leadership reported out a bill, including our proposal to reform the tax code. so i want to thank chairman enzi and the members of the budget committee for their outstanding work to get us to this important moment. they have been strong advocates for tax reform, and i appreciate their efforts. the committee's report also included chairman murkowski's plan to further develop alaska's oil and gas potential in an environmentally responsible way. her legislation, which has the support of her alaska colleague, senator sullivan, was designed to create good jobs, provide new sources of energy and strengthen our national security. now they will both advance to the senate floor. today the senate will take the next important step toward fixing the tax code and helping middle-class families keep more of their hard-earned money. members will vote to begin debate on this once in a generation opportunity to reform our tax code so it works for the middle class. i encourage any member who
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thinks we need to fix the problems of our outdated tax code to proceed to proceed to this legislation. anyone who thinks that rates are too high or loopholes are too prominent should vote to begin debate. and to members who have ideas about how to make the bill better, i would urge them to vote for the motion to proceed and offer their amendments. i believe my mandate from the people of kentucky is to vote yes, and i certainly intend to do so. the bottom line is this -- we must vote to begin debate, because once we do, we will be one step closer to taking more money out of washington's pocket and putting more money into the pockets of the hardworking men and women we represent. this is our chance. this is our chance to deliver relief for the people who have sent us here, and the way we can do that is by voting to proceed to the bill. every member will have the opportunity later today to answer the calls of american families by voting to begin
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debate. i will vote yes on the motion to proceed, and i would urge all of my colleagues to do the same. now, on another matter, our colleague, senator grassley, has done an outstanding job of processing the president's judicial nominees, beginning with the president's selection of judge neil gorsuch to serve on the supreme court. chairman grassley and members of the judiciary committee continue their important work today as the committee holds a hearing for three more of the president's judicial nominees, including two well-qualified nominees to our circuit courts, justice david strauss and mr. stuart kyle duncan. the committee's hearing today is particularly important because it means that one member of this body, in this case, the junior senator from minnesota, cannot single-handedly block the committee from considering an extraordinarily well-qualified nominee to serve on our circuit courts. that nominee is minnesota's supreme court justice david
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strauss. justice strauss is an extremely qualified, widely admired member of minnesota's highest court. he was raised by a single mother. he is the grandson of a survivor of the nazi death camp at auschwitz. justice strauss graduated first in his class at the university of kansas law school. he has clerked on the court of appeals and the united states supreme court. he worked for several years in private practice until he joined the faculty of the university of minnesota law school. he was appointed to the minnesota supreme court in 2010, and in 2012, minnesota voters elected him to a full term on their highest court. his reputation in the minnesota legal community is impeccable. it's no wonder the american bar association, hardly a right-wing organization, gave him its highest rating unanimously, well qualified. nevertheless, the junior senator from minnesota does not support
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justice strauss receiving so much as a hearing. that approach is untenable, in light of recent actions of our democratic colleagues. little more than four years ago, they eliminated the supermajority requirement for ending debate on lower court nominees. they did so, they said, because they believed that a minority of the senate should not be able to prevent the confirmation of a nominee who enjoyed the support of a majority of this body. perhaps our democratic colleagues now feel buyers' remorse over the change in the senate rules they jammed through this body, but they should not be allowed to use the committee's blue slip courtesy which is neither a committee rule nor a senate rule as another way to block the consideration of nominees with majority support. as chairman grassley has pointed out, that approach is not the way the blue slip courtesy was first used nor is it the way the vast majority of the judiciary committee chairmen have used it. and after senate democrats have changed the senate's rules to
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prevent 41 senators from stopping a nominee, our democratic colleagues can now surely not think it's tenable to give just one senator absolute power to do so. they decided 41 senators ought not to be able to stop a nominee. how can they now argue that one senator should be able to in effect blackball a nominee? in this case, the junior senator from minnesota acknowledges that it is undeniably true that justice strauss is a committed public servant whose tenure as a professor at the university of minnesota underscores just how much he cares about the law. yet our colleague objects to the committee even considering his nomination. why does he want to block a widely respected and accomplished state supreme court justice from his own state whom his constituents actually support? because our colleague doesn't agree with the united states supreme court justices whom the nominee admires, one of whom the nominee happened to clerk for.
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so i applaud chairman grassley for not allowing the blue slip courtesy to be abused in this fashion, and i look forward to learning more about justice strauss' views from today's hearing. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: now, first, before i get to my main issue of taxes, i just heard the majority leader talk about taking away the blue slip. now, we hear from the other side professing they want to work in a bipartisan way, but every step
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they take takes away bipartisanship. reconciliation takes away bipartisanship. getting rid of the blue slip takes away bipartisanship. unfortunately, the majority leader has taken so many steps this year to remove any hint of bipartisanship, most notably reconciliation on this major, major tax bill. this is the first time we're doing tax reform in 36 years, but then it was done in a bipartisan way, and the product lasted and people in retrospect were proud of it, because this bill is being done in such a partisan and narrow way. and the idea -- and i even heard my friend from utah say this, join us. you don't join us after you put together a bill in the dark of night just with republicans and then say come join us. that is not how tax reform was done in 1986. that is not how the major
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bipartisan efforts in this body have ever been done. it's a group from both parties sitting down and coming up with a plan. and to offer amendments and then have them all defeated or ruled out of order, and then say that is regular order. who are we kidding? who are we kidding? this has been a very partisan bill. that's why it's not a great product. that's why the other side is rushing it through. this is not a proud day for this chamber, and history will show that. history will show that. now, i'd like to talk about the specific plan, although we're still not sure what the plan will be. another example, according to reports, republicans are right now furiously debating changes in the bill, and who knows when they'll put the bill on the floor? and a bill like this deserves weeks of debate on the floor. at most, we'll get 20 hours of
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debate, and maybe not then, depending when the leader puts the new substitute bill on the floor. that is so wrong. that is so, so against the better angels of this chamber and the history we've had for centuries. it's against the best practices that my dear friend from utah, the chairman of the finance committee, has exhibited throughout his career. i hope we can, even at this late moment, change that. but we are only one day away, unfortunately, from a final vote on the bill to rewrite the entire u.s. tax code and significant parts of the republican bill are still up in the air. but by the time we vote, no one will have a definitive analysis of how the bill will impact the economy. no one. no one will know how the last-minute provisions republicans add will affect
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american taxpayers and businesses. if this bill should pass, and i sure hope it doesn't for the sake of america, for the sake of the middle class, my republican friends will regret rushing it through in such a brazen way. there will be unintended consequences. the rush to get something, anything done, will haunt my republican colleagues in years to come, and i dare say, in november of 2018. i'd understand the rush if the republicans were sure he had had a great tax bill, but they are not sure. i know so many of my colleagues, and they've expressed real misgivings about this bill. they say it's better than nothing, but that's not the alternative. it's not either this bill or nothing because we democrats are ready to sit down and work on a bipartisan bill -- it will take a couple of months -- and come up with a much better plan that
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will get 70 or 80 votes in this chamber that we will all be proud of. every independent analysis has shown that millions of middle-class people will get an increase in taxes. the tax policy center estimates that 60% of middle-class families will see a tax increase by the end of the day while folks making over $1 million will get an average cut of $40,000. do millionaires need a tax cut at all? are they doing so poorly? is there any study that shows this kind of tax cut will make them work harder or create more jobs? no. no. none. so the individual side here, which reduces the top rate by 1%, if that's still in the bill they are going to put before us,
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is misguided. corporation will get permanent breaks while individuals will expire after only a few years. estates -- right now the only estates that pay any tax are worth over $11 million, and they'll get a tax break while 13 million americans, middle income, low income, will get health insurance. why rush to pass a bill like that? it's no wonder the bill is so unpopular with the american people. in every survey i have seen -- in every state survey i have seen, the numbers who dislike the bill exceed, in most cases, by a lot, just like health care. corporate profits are at an all-time high. companies are flush with cash. the richest 1% of americans
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receive 20% of the overall income. the richest 20% get -- the richest 1% get 20% of the income. god bless them. i don't like that percentage. that percentage hasn't been matched in nearly a century since the roaring 20's. but do they need a tax breaks. corporations and the wealthy are doing great right now. god bless them. they don't need a tax cut to lavish them with a huge tax break and asking others to take on the costs. that shnot anything -- that is not something anyone can want to agree to. the main argument that my republican colleagues use to counter their damming facts is that a massive corporate tax cut would grow the economy and make it easier for companies to
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invest in their workers. the argument that a massive corporate tax cut leads to more jobs and higher wages is a flimsy house of cards that falls down under the slightest scrutiny. yesterday -- just yesterday -- bloomberg published an article citing the c.e.o.'s of major companies, sysco, coca-cola who said, according to the report, quote, they will turn over most of the gains of the proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, completely undercutting the president's promise that the plan will create jobs and raise wages for the middle class. we've seen similar quotes by major corporate earnings on earning calls over the past several months. they admit it. this big corporate tax break will go, in large part, to stock
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buybacks, dividends which we all know go to the wealthiest people in america. the addition -- the per pondance go to the wealthiest. this will not go to new investments or higher wages, but c.e.o. bonuses, stock buybacks, dividends. prepare the most compelling testimony was given by gary cohen himself who spoke at the "wall street journal"'s c.e.o. council. the gallery was asked to raise their hands if they planned to invest the money they got into corporate tax cuts. gary cohen had to ask, why aren't more hands up? and, again, they say, they were afraid to say so. they don't want to reveal their
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plans. well, they are revealing their plans in earnings calls and when reporters ask them. and so many of them say, i'm not going to invest this in jobs, i'm going to invest it in dividends, stock buybacks, send it back to the shareholders. the harsh fact of the matter is that tax cuts don't result in the kind of economic growth and job growth my republican friends predict. it didn't happen after the bush tax cuts, it didn't happen in kansas where there were so many promises. if we cut taxes in kansas, there will be huge growth and more jobs. it was a dramatic not, what happened in kansas, that republicans are repeating. kansas' job growth last year was much lower than the national average despite all the big tubts they gave. -- tax cuts they gave. i'm afraid my republican colleagues and friends are willing to paper over their
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serious reservations with this bill in order to say they got something done. they are willing to look past the fact that 60% of middle-class families will see a tax increase by the end of the day, that health care premiums will rise 10%, and 13 million fewer americans will have health insurance. that the tax bill will exacerbate inequality in an economy that is already unperilessly unequal all in the name of a tax cut that won't create the kind of economic and job growth they are predicting. i heard the leader speak a minute ago and say -- these are his words in effect -- he said, the focus of this bill is on the middle class. it's only on the middle class if you believe in trickle-down economics, that giving money to the wealthy corporations, giving
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money to the wealthiest of people will create jobs -- trickle down. it has never worked. 77% of americans, by a recent poll, don't believe big corporations should get tax cuts. they don't believe in trickle down. the only people who believe in trickle down seem to be the members of this chamber and big corporation leaders who will get the benefits. nobody else seems to believe it. trickle down is wrong. this bill could be entitled, the trickle-down tax bill. let's hope and pray, middle-class people, that when the biggest corporations get their tax breaks, you get a few crumbs. we can do much better by working together in a bipartisan way. in conclusion, i say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, particularly those who aren't sold on this bill, we
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can create a better product by working together. democrats and republicans agree on many principles in tax reform. we both want to lower rates and close hoop holes. we both want to reduce burdens on the small businesses and simplify the code. i think many on the other side agree with us that it should be deficit neutral. this bill is none of those things. if we start over, pursue tax reform in the right way, the bipartisan way, the open way, the sunlight way, i genuinely believe we can find a product that both sides can be proud of and one that will be much, much better and better received by and for the american people. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ewe traw. -- from utah. senator. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. i recognize the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank the presiding officer. i listened to the minority leader's remarks. if anybody believes that we're going to be able to work together closely when they just want a -- they had us right there at the instance of socialism just a month ago and we're still right on the cusp of socialism. i hate to say it, but our democratic friends are pushing us towards socialism which has never worked anywhere in the world, and it's not going to work here. their answer to everything is big government. well, there are two different points of view here, and i have to tell you i used to be on their side when i was a young
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fellow, when i was raised in poverty and came up the hard way and learned a trade and became a journeyman metal lather, which was one of the most skilled trades at the time. i have to say that these haunting refrains were used by democrats back then too, but look at this country and the mess it's in, and it's in a mess because of their philosophy. we've got to change it. i admit with him that the business committee isn't always right and they are not always the best to spend our money, but they are sure a lot better than -- than government spending it all the time. so much for this. madam president, the senate will soon vote on the motion to
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proceed on legislation to reform our nation's broken tax code and to provide significant relief for tens of millions of middle-class families. members from both parties have worked for years on this effort, and as we move to consider this legislation, we will take another step toward accomplishing what has -- until recently anyway -- has been a bipartisan goal. i want to thank all of those who helped us advance this process, especially the members of the finance committee. i also want to thank our distinguished majority leader, senator mcconnell, for his work and leadership on this as well. we are not there yet. we have a number of steps to take, including today's vote. i don't want to put any carts ahead of any horses, but i'm optimistic that we can get a
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positive outcome today. our tax reform bill was crafted with the primary purpose of providing tax relief to the middle class and growth to our economy. to accomplish these goals, the bill lowers individual tax rates across the board. the bill also expands a zero tax bracket by nearly doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit, and increasing the child tax credit refund ability, all of which -- refundability, all of which will give -- will cut taxes for millions of middle-class taxpayers. that sounds like the right thing to do to me. some examples withs ill lus trif. under our bill, a family of four making $73,000 a year will see their taxes go down by more than
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$2,000 a year. now, that's a savings of more than $180 a month. overall this represents a nearly 60% reduction in that families -- family's liability. a single family will pay one-quarter of the federal income taxes he or she may have today, an annual reduction of almost $1,400. this is real money for these families. it will bring down credit card balance -- balancesles or increase their ability to save for if the future. in addition to reducing the tax burden on low to middle income families, this bill will make filing taxes simpler. according to j.c.t., more than nine in ten american families will opt forp the standard deduction under this
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legislation, avoiding all together the difficult and complicated process of itemizing deductions. this means less time on tax compliance and preparation for millions of middle-class taxpayers. it may hurt the legal profession, but it's going to give freedom to the american people. the bill also repeals one of the most regressive taxes in american history. the obamacare individual mandate tax which overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly burdens middle and low-income families. in fact, 80% of the families that pay that tax make less than $50,000 per year. and yet this repeal has been the source of much consternation from my friends on the other side of the aisle. very more to say on -- i have more to say on that in a moment. for most businesses that pay taxes on the owner's individual reforms or pass-throughs, the
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bill provides significant relief in the form of a simple tax reduction applied to qualified business income. this will reduce the overall tax burden for pass-through businesses which are the primary engines of our job creation in the united states. in addition, our bill helps out businesses by enhancing expensing and expanding the availability of simplified cash accounting. all told, this means more expansion, more investment, and more jobs for u.s. workers employed by small businesses. make no mistake, this bill is pro-small business which is why the national federation of independent businesses, the largest small business association in the country, has enthusiastically expressed its support for our legislation. they're not stupid. they're brilliant people. they know how badly the small
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business community has been treated by our tax writers over the years. and they're looking forward to this legislation passing. it should probably go without saying at this point that the united states currently has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. and as a result, we are seeing businesses flee our country for more favorable tax conditions overseas while others are getting purchased by foreign companies. some of them are just giving up and letting the foreign companies take them over. that's not good for american workers. that's not good for america. both former presidents clinton and obama have spoken in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate to allow our country to be more globally competitive. now, that sentiment has been shared by countless democrats in this chamber, including the
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current ranking member of the finance committee and the senate minority leader. with this bill we are taking their advice by lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%. we also shift to a more territorial system of international tax. another idea that was explicitly endorsed in a bipartisan working group report so authored by my good friend senator schumer, by the way, who just spoke here. this shift is paid for largely through the use of a, quote, deemed repatriation, unquote. another idea supported by democrats in recent years has been that idea. and we are creating both incentives and penalties to prevent base erosion, a goal that has become clearly bipartisan during the recent waves of corporate inversions. long story short, madam
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president, there's quite a bit in this bill that both republicans and democrats sloo be able to -- democrats should be able to support. of course, anyone who gets their information solely from the statements and talking points from our friends on the other side would never get that. over the next few days, i expect we'll hear quite a few misleading claims, both about the bill and about the process that led us here. for example, i expect we'll hear that this bill is just a massive giveaway to the so-called rich. that's always the claim of the democrats. it's a gift to the so-called rich. oh, gosh, give me a break. i get so tired of that phony, lousy argument that they make all the time. they've hurt the middle class so badly in this country, it's unbelievable. my colleagues will make that claim that it's a massive giveaway to the so-called rich, even though they have the same data from the joint committee on
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taxation that we have, which shows pretty clearly that middle-class taxpayers will receive the largest proportional tax cuts under the bill and none of the existing tax burden will be shifted downward from those at the top. in fact, those in the highest bracket, according to j.c.t., the joint committee on taxation, will pay a higher percentage of the overall tax burden than they do now. i expect we'll hear that by repealing the individual mandate tax, the bill will be taking people's health insurance away and raising taxes on the poor. that claim will be made despite confirmation from congressional score keepers that nothing, nothing in the bill removes or limits anyone's access to health insurance. but the approach they're taking
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toward health insurance would put us into a socialized medicine situation overnight. if anybody thinks that's a great idea, i ask them to look at the socialized medicine countries and compare them to what we've been able to have. instead, j.c.t. and c.b.o. project that with no individual mandate, people will choose to not get health insurance, even if they still have access to premium subsidies, employer-provided plans, or even free health coverage through medicaid. this bill provides choice. it doesn't take anything away from those individuals. we can quibble with that conclusion and question whether tens of millions of people who currently have health insurance, including a few million who are currently getting it for free, will suddenly opt to go uninsured once the mandate penalty is zeroed out. given that most observers have
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concluded that the mandate has essentially failed to draw enough participants into the health care market to keep premiums from skyrocketing, there is room for questioning whether the score keepers are right on that score. however, even if they are 100% correct, no one will lose their health insurance under this bill when the mandate is repealed. anyone going uninsured will be doing so voluntarily. we're not kicking anyone off their insurance by zeroing out the individual mandate penalty, and it's a blatant distortion of reality to claim otherwise. similarly, no one's taxes will go up if the mandate is zeroed out. true enough, our score keepers have produced distribution tables showing an uptick in taxes at the low end of the income spectrum due to decreased utilization of premium tax credits offered under obamacare.
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my colleagues, i'm sure, will talk about this at length as well. however, i'd like to have one of them explain how a person's voluntary decision to forego a tax subsidy amounts to a tax hike. so far i haven't heard a serious attempt at such explanation. in fact, during a recent markup when the chief of staff at j.c.t. sat at the table and told my colleagues that no one will owe a dime in additional taxes as a result of the individual mandate repeal, none of my colleagues disputed this conclusion. instead, they opted to ignore it, even after they were shown a j.c.t. table showing that if the behavioral effects of the mandate repeal are removed from the equation as they should be when we're talking about taxes owed, every income group will see their taxes go down under
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this bill. i hope our colleagues and those watching will remember these facts when they're evaluating the claims being made by some on the other side. madam president, we have a good bill here under the circumstances, and i believe members of both parties, if politics were removed from consideration, could support it. we've gotten significant support throughout the business community with associations and companies from almost every industry and secto sector, publy and support of the reforms in this bill. i know some of my republican colleagues have concerns, and i've been committed to working with them to see if improvements can be made. and as this process moves forward, we may have to make a few more changes. this, of course, is how the legislative process works. our process is designed to produce legislation that reflects the combined views that
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interests of a majority senators and more importantly the constituents they represent. as with any legislative endeavor of real significance, the perfect should not be considered the enemy of the good. as i've said before, i've been around long enough to know that anyone demanding perfection when it comes to major legislation is bound to be waiting a very, very long time. and likely won't accomplish much. before i close, madam president, i want to underscore how much of the once in a generation opportunity this is. we need to get this done. the cost of failure and continuing with the status quo are just too high. the american people deserve a tax system that provides greater opportunity, a stronger economy, and better jobs. we need a tax code designed to work for the world of 2017 and
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beyond. our bill will accomplish these goals. we need to take this next step so we can continue the work. so i urge all of my colleagues to vote yes on the motion to proceed. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island reed reed thank you, madam president -- mr. reed: thank you, madam president. two weeks i rise to urge my colleagues on the other side to reject the partisan and fiscally irresponsible tax proposals in the so-called tax cuts and jobs act. i asked them to remember that when it comes to our responsibility to plan for a nation's long-term economic future. we are here to cooperate and also to secure opportunity and security for future generations, not to serve the short-term interests of partisan politics. today i regret to say that the process around the republican tax bill has only become more rushed, more partisan, more
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bitter, and less transparent. my republican colleagues wrote this bill behind closed doors, held no serious hearings or debate, and even now are planning to make substantial changes to the final bill that we will vote on before we have even had the benefit. a comprehension -- benefit of a comprehensive nonpartisan score of its cost. we all know better than to believe that this irresponsible process will lead to a responsible or sustainable outcome. therefore, because it is clear that this bill is an unprecedented giveaway to the wealthy corporations and individuals at the expense of poor, sick, elderly, and middle-class americans and because it will drive out trillions of dollars, drive this nation trillions of dollars further into debt, i strongly urge my colleagues to reject this bill and work with both sides of the aisle to craft tax reform that will help rather than burden future generations and the middle class. the only future generations this
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bill appears to take into account are the children and grandchildren of the wealthiest families of the united states, including president trump's family and the families of the wealthiest cabinet ever assembled by any president. according to the nonpartisan tax policy center, half of all the households and two-thirds of households making between $5 $54,700 and $93,200 would see their taxes go up under the current republican bill. that is half of all households and two-thirds of households make between those numbers would see their taxes go up under the current republican bill. individuals will struggle to get by because of sickness or the unavailability of well-paying job opportunities would lose tax exemptions and advantages that would help them stay afloat. many americans who played by the rules will open their paycheck to see a little more taken out every month but not for their
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benefit. on the other hand, for the 5,000 american families, 5,000 american families with fortunes in the millions of dollars or more, the republican plan to repeal or drastically curtail the estate tax could on its own funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to those few who need it the very least. the mere idea that we would raise taxes for tax cuts to the wealthiest epitomizes how this is at odds with our value and the trillions of dollars this bill will add to the deficit will lead to deep cuts in earned benefits like social security and medicare as well as our national defense. indeed, major cuts to defense historically follow tax cuts and this is almost precisely why we have an estate tax in the first place. our nation first enacted estate taxes to pay for military conflicts without driving the
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nation deeply into debt. starting in 1797 and continuing through the civil war, spanish-american war, and world war i, estate taxes were used to offset the cost of war. it was kept to counter the massive growth of inequality, something that we're seeing today on a more intense scale. the estate tax was a critical source of revenue that softened the blow of the great depression. prior congresses saw it as their responsibility to pay america's bills at home and abroad. they did not leave years of war on america's line of credit nor did they expect the poor to pay while the rich took a tax cut. there were times when a deficit was necessary, but no generation
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has faced what we do now. 16 years of deficit finance military conflict with no end in sight, compounded by the bush tax cuts for the wealthy that never paid for themselves despite represented republican promises. before we give the wealthiest americans another tax cut at the expense of our children and our children's children, we need an idea of how we will handle trillions of dollars in compounding war debt, not to mention the trillions more we must spend to maintain and modernize our military and address the basic needs that have gone unfund. that is why i will file a motion on the bill to reinstate the estate tax at current levels and place all of the revenue generated by it into a trust fund. those funds, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade, will be devoted
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to address the opioid epidemic here at home. this motion not only restores the estate tax, but it also makes a much-needed downstatement on the domestic agenda. this shjust one -- the bill sabotages a health care system by repealing an individual mandate which could through 13 million americans off their health insurance and increase premiums for others. yet again the 130 million americans with preexisting conditions must fear that their premiums will skyrocket or they will be left with no options at all. the poor and sick may find fewer options as this bill forces billions of dollars of cuts to medicare because of the massive deficits it will produce. do not tell me this bill will pay for itself with growth. i've served in this body long
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enough to know that trickle-down economics doesn't work. economists have said that this will balloon the debt and not create enough growth to offset it. sysco, pfizer, and coca-cola said that they will use the gains from the corporate tax cuts to pay shareholders rather than raise wages for the middle class. we are making decisions here that will guide the largest economy in the world. wele simply cannot roll the -- we simply cannot just roll the dice. it remains my hope that my republican colleagues will choose to work with democrats on tax reform that is bipartisan, reasonable, and in keeping with our responsibility to lead this nation better than we found it. we can and should address other domestic priorities in dire need like our nation's infrastructure, the economic security of children and seniors and sustainable employment for the middle class.
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i and my colleagues are ready to work in god faith on -- good faith on tax reform, but we cannot do that until we abandon the recklessness that led to this republican tax bill. mr. president, we are all here and committed to defend our nation, but this bill will make it virtually impossible to do what we know we must do. there are unavoidable costs in our national security that are not even counted in this bill. we are committed, frankly, and we have done so on the armed services committee, to increase the size of our military forces. every additional 10,000 service members costs roughly $1.8 billion per year. where will we get that money when we're going $1.5 trillion in debt to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest americans? we want a 355-ship navy.
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there have been estimates that it will create $1 there will a year. where will we get that when we have given $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest americans. we have to modernize our submarines and aircraft. there are estimates that will costs dz 400 billion -- $400 billion per year. where will we get that since we have given $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest americans many we have overseas operations in iraq. over a 10-year period, $10 billion needs to be paid. syria, that's $13 billion. if we stay there for ten years, and that seems to be the present policy, that's $130 billion. we pay $50 billion to support the afghan operation, and we're going to stay there apparently under the current procedure, not based on time, but conditions, that's another 10 years. add that up, about $640 billion
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in the next ten years just to maintain the situation in those three countries. when you total this all up -- and these are not costs that we can ignore, or if we do, we'll be turning our back on the policy announced by this president and this congress. in fact, strongly by my republican colleagues. let's -- that's several billion dollars. where's the money going? and we don't have a situation we had in 2001 when president george w. bush proposed his proposal. we don't have an expected $5 trillion surplus. we already have a multitrillion dollar deficit over ten years and we're adding to that deficit and we know we have to maintain the military. anyone who is voting for this bill is essentially saying, you know, i'll talk a good story
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about supporting national security, but when it comes down to the money, it's going to go to the wealthiest americans, to estate tax, to the wealthiest americans taking out the alternative minimum tax. it won't be there unless we borrow it from future generations to fund the things that we know we have to fund to defend america. is this just absolutely irresponsible, and as a result, i would hope that we could regain our senses, sit down and deal on a bipartisan basis with tax reform that could help all of us, could, indeed, even begin, after 16 years, to put real money into our national defense rather than borrowing it for future generations. again, this bill is not only not economically wise because it will not generate growth. it is irresponsible because we
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will be put in a position where we will be choosing very shortly in the next several years whether we're going to cut federal defense, social security, or whether we're going to cut everything because the deficit is growing so large. i don't think we should put ourselves in that position. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. madam president, the american people have gotten a lot of lip service over the past 10 months. remember draining the swamp, fighting for middle-class americans? the president forgot after filling the cabinet with a who's who of wall street, or how about every single american having better health care. that was before the president kicked people off of coverage, increased costs for millions more, and gut protections for people with preexisting
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conditions. you would think it would be tough to top all of that. but here we are watching republicans twist themselves into knots trying to convince hard working families that the republican tax plan is anything but a high-priced give away to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations. it is a give away paid for my the middle class and those who can least pay for it. i'm glad that the phones are lighting up demanding to know how anyone who is representing them could put their name on this terrible partisan fast-track bill because they see the same nonpartisan reports we all do. they know that expert after expert has confirmed what we all know -- the republican tax plan will hurt millions of every day
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americans, including those who are already falling behind in an economy that tilts further and further in favor of the wealthiest few. they know the republican tax plan takes money out of their pockets. they know it guts their health care by spiking premiums and leaving millions of americans without the coverage they need. they know it papers over our nation's family leave problem instead of giving corporations a massive giveaway and leaving families in a lurch. they know it leaves trillions of dollars in thaicial debt setting up, once again, the perfect foil for them to go after medicare, medicaid, and social security and other middle-class priorities when that bill comes due. the senate republican tax bill adds a backdoor attempt to open the arctic national wildlife refuge to drilling for oil just
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for good measure. madam president, republicans are even trying to pay for tax cuts for those at the top by sabotaging families' health care in this bill in a way that spikes premiums, causes 13 million people to lose their coverage, and creates more chaos in the health care system. and i know they are claiming that the bipartisan bill i reached with chairman alexander can somehow fix this if it is signed into law and that other bipartisan legislation to help states cover the costs of enrolling very sick patients might help too, but let me make they clear that is wrong. this is the classic example of trying to fit a square peg into a round cold and would be cold comfort to people across the country who are struggling to get the care they need while at the same time watching massive corporations get more tax breaks that they don't need. madam president, if anyone was
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still under any illusion that republicans are concerned about the middle class orifice cal responsibility or even regular order, that ends here and now. this is shameful and wrong, but i have to say, it is not too late. so i say this to my republican colleagues -- let's move right now to the bipartisan work we know our constituents actually want and expect. let's return to a process that allows a true debate about our values. let's talk about our ways to grow the economy from the middle out. things like accessing high-quality child care and pre-k and providing meaningful paid family leave for every american, making college more affordable, investing in retirement security for our workers, making health care more affordable, more accessible. those are the kinds of conversations that we should be having. those are the people we should
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be investing in. we will not stop reminding you all that every day until you give up this cruel tax plan. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you. madam president, president trump and the republican leadership is on television every day telling the american people how this tax bill is going to help the middle class, how it was written for the middle class. unfortunately, i will not shock too many people by suggesting that what president trump is saying is not truthful. this legislation, according to independent studies, will provide 60% of the benefits to the top 1%. so we are living in a moment in
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american history where we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, where the top one-tenth of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, where three people -- three wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of the american population, and yet my republican colleagues believe that this is a moment in which 60% of the benefits of this so-called tax reform bill should go to the 1%. meanwhile, millions of middle-class families will end up paying more in taxes. so we have a situation where the wealthy who need tax breaks the least will benefit the most, and
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many millions of struggling working class and middle-class families will end up paying more in taxes at the end of ten years. madam president, the president of the united states and my republican colleagues tell the american people that trickledown economics, giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations, will expand the economy, will create new jobs, and will pay for the deficit that this legislation brings about. and the simple truth is that trickledown economics is a fraudulent theory. it has failed miserably in kansas where it has been most recently put into effect.
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it failed under the reagan administration. and it failed under the administration of george w. bush. but what interests me the most, madam president, is that my republican colleagues will not tell the american people how they are going to be paying for the $1.4 trillion increase in deficits that this bill creates. you have a $1.4 trillion increase in deficits. how is that going to be paid for? and my view is without doubt that as soon as this legislation is passed, the republicans will come back and they'll suddenly rediscover their religion about
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deficits, and they will go before the american people saying we need, quote, unquote, entitlement reform. or we need welfare reform. so let me translate for you what entitlement reform means. it means that when millions of older workers have nothing in the bank saved up for retirement, they're going to propose massive cuts to social security. now, we don't know exactly the form that it will take. maybe they'll want to raise the retirement age forcing older workers to work more before they can get their social security benefits. maybe they will cut back on cost-of-living increases through a so-called chain c.p.i. which means lower benefits. they're going to go after
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medicare. maybe their idea will be to privatize medicare, convert it into a voucher program, and say to older americans, here's the check for $8,000. you go out and find the private insurance that you can, and good luck to you if you're dealing with heart disease or cancer with your $8,000 check. and they will no doubt come back to slash medicaid. now, these are not just wild ideas that i have been thinking about. this is pretty much what was in the budget the republicans voted for right here on the floor of the senate. they have already voted for a trillion-dollar cut over a ten-year period to medicaid. and that means massive reductions in health, not only
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for lower-income americans, not only for children, but for people in nursing homes. they have already voted in the budget over a ten-year period to cut medicare by $470 billion. and in the house, they are working hard to figure out ways to cut social security and the republicans will also make massive cuts to education, to nutrition, to environmental protection. the other day i sent a letter to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and to the speaker of the house paul ryan. and what i asked of them was to be honest with the american people. this is what i said, mr. president, and i ask that this letter be put into the
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congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. and this is what i asked. i said that, quote, i am very concerned that if you succeed in passing tax legislation that significantly adds to our national debt, you will then move aggressively to balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. in other words, in order to pay for tax breaks for the rich and large corporations, you will make massive cuts to social security, medicare, medicaid, nutrition, environmental protection, and every other program designed to protect the needs of the middle class and working families of our country. before the senate votes on tax legislation that adds over $1.4
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trillion to the deficit -- and this is what i wrote to the majority leader -- you owe the american people a specific and detailed explanation as to how the republican congress will achieve its commitment of balancing the budget over the next decade. will you schedule a vote to raise the eligibility age of medicare from 65 to 67 as called for in the house budget resolution? will you attempt to end medicare as we know it by giving seniors vouchers to purchase private health insurance, something long supported by speaker ryan? how much will you cut social security? will you try to increase the retirement age to 70? cut cost f living adjustment -- cost-of-living adjustments for senior citizens and veterans?
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will you support legislation kicking 15 million americans off of health insurance? as you know, this was a provision included in the republican budget resolution that was passed earlier this year. how much do you plan on cutting affordable housing, pell grants, wick, and head start to pay for a permanent tax break for profitable corporations? end of quote. now, that is what i wrote to the majority leader. and my challenge right now to my republican colleagues is i ask you come down to the floor of the senate and tell me that i am wrong. come down here and tell the american people that if this legislation, this disastrous tax bill passes, that you will not be coming back to cut social
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security, medicare, medicaid, nutrition, education, and other programs. maybe i am wrong. and if republicans come down here and say bernie, you're wrong. we have no intention of cutting social security, medicare, and medicaid, i will come here, mr. president, and i will apologize. so my challenge right now to my republican colleagues, come down here, tell me, tell the american people that i am wrong. tell us all that you're not going to cut social security, medicare, medicaid, and education in order to deal with the $1.4 trillion deficit that you bring about in this disastrous tax bill. tell the american people that you're not going to cut programs that the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor desperately need in order to give huge tax breaks to the
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wealthy and large corporations. that is my challenge, and i will be listening eagerly to see if there are any republicans who are going to come down and tell me that what i'm suggesting is wrong. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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bar mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming bar thank you, mr. president. this week we're debating the republican tax relief plan. i had a telephone town hall meeting the other night along with senator enzi talking with people from wyoming and talking to them who have actually done the math, looked at the impact of the things that are included in this proposal, doubling the standard deduction and child tax credit. people say it's a good deal for them personally. so there's a lot to like in this legislation that gives tax cuts to hardworking american families. it makes taxes simpler and
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fairer. and it makes american businesses more competitive around the world. it makes our economy stronger here at home. well, that's all good news for our country and for the american people. now, there's other good news in this legislation, and it's something i continue to hear about at home over the thanksgiving recess in wyoming is that it wipes out the obamacare insurance mandate tax. this is the tax penalty that the obama health care law forced on the american people. under the republican plan, people would no longer have to pay a tax penalty to the i.r.s. if they didn't want the democrats' expensive health insurance or if they just couldn't afford it. now, we've seen health insurance premiums skyrocket over the past few years in this country, and it's because of the way democrats wrote the health care law. the cost as well as the deductibles are so high that many people find that even if they have paid for the expensive
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insurance, the deductible is so high that they still can't afford to get the care that they need. and the law says, though, no matter how expensive the insurance gets or how unusable it is for that individual, people by law still have to buy it or pay a tax. families ought to be able to make decisions about what they want to buy or what works for them, not the government. well, and i believe if people don't want to buy the obamacare insurance, they shouldn't have to pay a tax penalty to the i.r.s. those are the things that we're looking at, mr. president. it was interesting, today in "the new york times" there was more than a half page devoted to this on the topic, millions pay penalty instead of buying policy. who are they? well, in the state of wyoming
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15,000 people paid over $15 million in fines to the i.r.s. this article today says 6.7 million tax filers paid the penalty in 2015. you say, who are they? mr. president, it's not surprising for you to know that the great majority of those who paid the fine have an adjusted family income of less than $50,000. it says the $25,000 to $50,000 income group had the highest share of paying the penalty in 2015. mr. president, why do you think these people aren't able to buy the insurance? it's too expensive. it's not a good deal for them. that's why even "the new york times" is reporting that 25,000 to -- $25,000 to $50,000 income group are the highest share of people paying the penalty.
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they questioned, why didn't -- did you pay the penalty? because they couldn't afford the insurance. the average penalty it points out in 2017 is $708. that's money those families could use for many other things, but it's not enough compared to the cost of the insurance which is even higher yet. a single woman would have to pay a tax of either $695 or 2.5% of her income, whichever is higher. if it's a couple, the tax would be double that, if it's a family with kids, they would pay additional for each of the children. a majority of americans say they don't have enough savings today to cover a $500 emergency expense if one came up. who actually pays? these over 16,000 people in wyoming who paid the penalty,
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these are hard working families are opposed to the fact that they have to pay a tax if they don't buy a government product that doesn't work for them. across the country we see over six million people who were hit with this extra tax. the obamacare insurance mandate tax is a tax on the working people of this country. i think it's not right. the republican members of this senate do not think it is right. washington shouldn't make people pay higher taxes because they can't afford obamacare insurance. they shouldn't have to buy something that is not right for them and their families. if we get rid of the insurance mandate, 13 million people will decide, under their own free will, not to have insurance. these people don't view it as a good benefit for them, that's why they may walk away from it. they don't view it as their own
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money. republicans want to give people a tax cut. democrats want to make sure that people still have to pay the tax penalty. mr. president, there'ses a lot -- there's a lot i want to change about how the health insurance works. i want to return the money and decisions back to the people. we do that the a the state level where people at the local level can make the best decisions about what works best for them and their state, not a one size fits all coming out of washington. i have not given up on trying to get that done because we need to make health care better. in wyoming we are down to one insurer willing to sell this policy. that is happening around the country. it is not a marketplace, but a monopoly. i got an e-mail from one man in sheraton, wyoming, who said that his monthly premiums were going up $700 next month.
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that's for two adults and no children. he and his wife are stuck in a position where they will have to pay more than $2,400 a month for insurance. another woman from park county, wyoming, wrote to me telling me that her family had to switch insurance plans. the coverage they had before was canceled. why did so many lose their insurance in wyoming? why was it canceled? it was good enough for them and provided what they needed, but the government said it wasn't good enough for the government. mr. president, that's wrong. this lady writes about the incredible increase in the costs. she says, what are we supposed to do? i heard that from all corners of the state of wyoming, what are they supposed to do? mr. president, i don't think these people should have to choose between paying sky-high insurance premiums or sky-high tax penalty to the i.r.s. people of wyoming and around the
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country want to buy insurance that's affordable, that works for them and fits the needs of them and their families. they don't want to be forced to buy the insurance that washington tells them they have to buy because washington, as we have seen in the past, think they know better than the american people. people want coverage they need so they can go to the doctor they want at lower costs. mr. president, i wanted to point out also that the cost of insurance isn't the only problem we're looking at right now. there are other parts of the health care law that are -- that may actually be harming patients. and as a physician -- i -- physician, i receive many medical journals. there was a cardiology journal that looked at medicare patients who were hospitalized with hate failure. many people are hospitalized
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with heart failure. it is a chronic condition where occasionally they have to go back in the hospital for additional treatment. well, there's a program in the health care law that started to penalize hospitals if that medicare patient was readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after they had been released from the hospital. there are a number of reasons that may happen, but the goal was to penalize hospitals. and the goal -- laudable goal, was to give patients better treatment, but that's not what happened. this is the problem, mr. president. the democrats wrote into this law, and then with the regulations that came out, that they did this in a way that really had no evidence that the policy would actually help patients and save money at the same time. it they said, we're going to penalize patients, and personal hospitals, and if every hospital improved their numbers, they were going to still grade it on a curve, if you didn't improve
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it enough, you would still be penalized. that is bad for hospitals that take sicker patients and in terms of where they are where they can do a followup with patients. as it turns out from a study in the american medical journal says that the death rate, mr. president, actually went up after hospitals faced this new requirement. the study was over 400 hospitals, over 110,000 patients, and the study found an extra 4,005 people are dying every year among heart failure patients because of the way the government will penalize hospitals around the country when patients are readmitted. it's interesting because what has happened is the readmission rates to the hospitals actually went down. the hospitals succeeded in
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keeping people out to avoid the penalty, but people died in the process. the wall streetle journal, mr. president, -- "wall street journal", mr. president, had an article about it last week. they concluded if they were doing a drug trial to improve the lives of people and had the same results like this with 5,000 people dying, they would have shut is down long ago. there is a deadly unintended consequence here of the obamacare health care law. so the insurance mandate was supposed to keep premiums from rising. premiums have gone way up anyway. another unintended consequence of the law in spite of good intentions, it's not what happened under the law that was passed and is the law of the land right now. mr. president, i believe we should repeal the entire law. until we can do that, we should do what we can to help the
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american people who are struggling to deal with this expensive insurance and what i believe is an unfair tax and fine they must pay if they don't buy the insurance because they can't afford it, because it's not a good deal for them, it doesn't work for them or them family. i believe it is not just unpopular, it is unfair. it force it had them to buy expensive insurance, it wasn't right for them. mr. president, it's time for the insurance mandate to go away. we know it's a bad idea. we need to give people relief from this terrible tax. the people of wyoming and the people of this country simply can't afford to wait any longer. it is time to repeal the mandate of the health care law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. tillis: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. thank you for your comments and also thank you for sitting in the chair so i could step down and speak briefly. i i wasn't -- i wasn't sure if i was going to speak. i don't have any notes, but i was inspired by some of the comments made by the senator from vermont as i was presiding. for those who are visiting the d.c. area, if you don't get an opportunity to go to any of the theaters at the kennedy center, don't worry because you're seeing a lot of theater here on the senate floor. anybody who would suggest that
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we're going to come back and cut my mother's medicare and my mother's social security and the mothers and brothers and sisters of other people who are depending on that for their livelihood is somewhat involved in political theater. so some people heard the challenge to have a republican come down here and say on the floor, bernie, you're wrong. well, the distinguished senator from vermont is wrong. this bill is actually about providing freedom and tax relief for working families so the economy will grow. now, i can understand why maybe it's not intentional theater on the part of some of these folks. it may be because they've simply never done it before. but if you've ever lived in income -- in north carolina or since 2011, you know that we have did. i have seen it before. we were the sixth-highest taxed
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state in the nation, one of the slowest growing economies. we were having a problem paying our bill. we had a $2.5 billion structural deficit. i heard the theater on the floor, if you cut taxes, you're going to drive up the deficit, you are going to -- if you cut taxes, you are going to drive up medicaid. i heard it all. everybody accused us for that. i hit the gavel and ratified tax reform. guess what happened. we went from number six to being one of the best. we went from being one of the worst performing state economies to one of the best many we have reduced people in poverty and statistically. we can prove it to you. we do the counts. the number of people who have been lifted out of poverty have increased -- has increased each of the last three years. median intersection has gone up,
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our gross domestic product has almost gone up over the past five or six years by $80 billion. we were at $400 billion, now we're at $480 billion. i'll tell you how we will pay the for the tax cuts. we will not pay for them by cutting taxes to seniors or medicare. we will pay them if we fulfill the courage -- fulfill the promise we made to american people. we will get our tax policy consistent and competitive with nations that are eating our lunch on locating business expansion and having businesses come offshore away from the united states to a more preferable tax jurist dictions -- jurisdictions. i have been in a position of leadership when i had great people in my caucus who had the courage to fulfill a promise i made if i became speaker of the house. now we can do the same thing for
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the people of america that we did for the people of north carolina. now let me reduce it down to an answer i gave a little boy yesterday. i think he was in fourth grade. i had a skype video conference with english as a second language class at an elementary school down in north carolina. i had one of the little boys ask me a great question, a question i never have had asked of me. i have only been if politics for about 12 years. but he said, what's the -- what piece of legislation were you most proud of? what's the thing that you were most proud of since you've been in the legislature? and i thought about t it was tough question because i think of many things that i've done. but then i went back to this little boy an the classroom and i said, you know what, buddy, it was something i did back when i was speaker of the house in north carolina. and no one -- and by the way, if any politician tells you, i did this, they're invariably not telling you the truth because you don't get anything done
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unless the team committed to it. so i along with a lot of people down in north carolina decided that if your parents could not afford to pay your bills, they were having a difficult time paying the utility bills, the rent and the grocery, paying for food, so we decided that we were going to do something to make sure that government gave your parents more money to make sure that you could go to school, to make sure that they could pay their bills, to make sure that they could have a better-paying job. and, buddy, that's the thing i'm most proud of. that thing i'm most proud of was tax reform that produced results that are indisputable. i've soon the theater before, and it didn't work out too well because it proved to to be fiction in north carolina. if we have the courage to take that same vote here, we're going to see the same results for those working families and job employers in the united states. so i hope that all of the members of this body recognize that we're not going to fund this -- the tax cuts on the backs of people that need the
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help the most. that's absurd. it's unfair, it's theater. we're going to take care of them and we're going to take care of everybody else who's relying on us -- this caucus -- to fulfill the promise we made, get the economy back on track, start winning more than losing against our international competition, and i'm completely convinced that the bill that's going to be before us over the end of this week is going to do just that. thank you, mr. president. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: i have seven requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. tillis: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i come to the floor to speak about daca.
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daca, an executive order of president obama, provided temporary, renewable legal status for immigrant students if they registered with the government, paid a filing fee of $500, passed a criminal and national security background check. 780,000 young people stepped forward and did something which they have been warned their entire lives never to do. their parents knew they were undocumented. they knew that they had been brought to this country at an early age. they knew this they weren't technically legal, and their parents warned them, stay away from cops and government, all that can happen is they discover you're undocumented and deport you and maybe your family as well. be careful. so president obama stepped up and said, if you will step forward, tell us who you are and let us do a background check on you, we're going to give you a chance, a chance to earn your way to legal status in america.
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708,000 young people took -- 780,000 young people took that chance and signedder up for daca. this weekend up at hunter college. and there were about five young people on a forum with me to discuss this bill and the issue of dreamers and immigration. and it was interesting because each one of them -- bright students, impressive young people -- before they would say anything, they would introduce themselves by saying something like, my name is isadora, and i have 465 days. the next one would say, my name is evelyn and i have 270 days. they were telling me how much time they had left protected to continue on as students. they know that president trump's decision on september 35 to abolish -- on september 5, to abolish daca, meant their protection was going to end as of march 5 next year. and then they face some terrible
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possibilities. first, deportation. these people have turned themselves in. they stepped up and identified themselves to our government with the belief that our government would not hold it against them. and now they worry that has changed. they're worried about what happens to their family because they had the courage to come up and sign up for this program. these are very real lifetime problems and challenges these young people face. and if you look through the list of those who could be affected if daca disappears, as president trump has called for on march 5, there are some heartbreaking stories. do you know there are 900 daca-protected young people who have volunteered now serve in the u.s. military? that's right. even though they're undocumented because of daca, they were allowed to sign up for a program known as mavne, with ace specialized program for those who have talented that are needed in our military, and they literally signed up.
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think of that for a minute. here they are illegal in america, undocumented in america, l. willing to risk their lives for america. why? because it is the only country they know. they have a lived their whole lives they are. they've gone to school here. they pledged allegiance to the flag. their national anthem, their country. because they were brought here as children, toddlers, infants, necessary papers were not filed. they have no legal status in this country. well, i hope that we can change that. when i asked president obama to create this program by executive order, he waited and worked for a year before he came up with it, and i thought it was good program. it was controversial, but at least for these young people it gave them a temporary renewable status, and that made all the difference in the world. when attorney general sessions announced the end of daca on september 5, the president challenged us. he challenged the senate and the
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house of representatives, and he said, do something about this. pass a law. take care of this problem. i think daca was legal, but i'm not going to argue in a point anymore. the new president does not. but i accept his challenge, and i think we all should. what can we do that is fair to these young people, that gives them the chance they're asking for, that is consistent with a good immigration policy for america? and that's why years ago i introduced the dream act and i didn't still believe it is the right approach. the notion behind it, of course, is if you were brought here as a child, you have no criminal record of any serious nature, you've completed your education, you have a chance to earn your way into legal status and then ultimately into citizenship. and that's what we're working on now. a number of us are getting together, talking about it on a bipartisan basis. and we have little time left. this has to be done this year, before the end of december. why do i say that if the program
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expires in march of next year? well because i've been around the senate for a few years, and i know in january and february, there's little if any heavy lifting. there are few bills that have to pass, and we tend to put things off. so far this year, we really wouldn't get gold stars for our performance on the floor of the senate in generating legislation. that's why i want to get that done, the whole dream act and daca done, in the month of december, before we leave. if we don't do it, if we fail -- and i pray that we won't -- but if we fail, as of march 5 of they can year, 1,000 of these young people will lose their protection under the law every single day for two years. 1,000 a day. i mentioned to you those serving in the military. 20,000 of those under daca are teachers. as of march 5 next year, they lose their jobs. school districts all around america will have to fill those vacancies because the teachers can no longer legally work for
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the school districts. and there are many others that face that as well. we have almost 90% who are engaged in some type of job, many are students who work because they, as undocumented students do qualify for federal assistance. they hold down jobs to pay for their college education. they break down in tears. senator, i am so close to graduating. if i am going to be deported, what's the point? that's what we're up against. that's what we face. so what we need to do is take a look at the real-life stories. i want to introduce to you a person who is a friend of mine. he is an amazing person. this is caesar montelongo. he was ten years old when his family brought him in from mexico. he grew up in new mexico where his academic achievement was quickly recognized. he graduated high school with a grade point average above 4.0.
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he was ranked third in his class. he was a member of the chess, french, spanish, physics and science clubs. he even took college clackses the last two -- classes the last two years of high school. caesar was a triple major in biology, microbiology in spanish as well as two minors in chemistry. he graduated with a track of 3.9 g.p.a. he earned a master's degree in biology. the reason he earned a master's degree in biology was because his dream was to go to medical school but before daca it was impossible. the medical schools in america were not accepting students who were undocumented. he knew if he went to medical school anywhere and didn't have a legal right to work, he couldn't complete a residency at the end of medical school.
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so he took a master's degree in biology and a minor in molecular biology and worked as a teaching assistant. then daca came along. today caesar is the first daca student who is enrolled in the m.d.-ph.d. program at loyola university chicago school of medicine. he's entering his third year of this highly competitive program. they only accept a handful for m.d.-ph.d. on completion he'll receive a medical degree and doctor in science. he's more than one of 30 daca recipients at this medical school in chicago. it was in fact the first medical school to admit students with daca status beginning in 2014. daca students don't get special treatment, no quotas. they have to compete. but bright, amazingly bright young people like caesar are just waiting for a chance to compete. many of them have committed, in
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order to finish their education at this medical school, they borrow from the state of illinois government that gives them a loan for their medical education for every year that they're given a loan they pledge to serve one year as medical doctors in an underserved area of our state. it's a win-win situation. he is now doing amazing research. he's researching how bladder viruses shape bacteria populations and the potential implications for infection and disease. he's a member of the pathology medical group. he's a spanish interpreter at the local clinic and a mentor to other medical students. i asked caesar what drew you to medicine. here's what he said: when i was very young my father became ill and was bedridden for months. he is the primary breadwinner and i saw him as our protector. watching him immobilized and screaming in pain made a huge
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impact on me. years later we would find out our father suffered from diabetic neuro ron xi. learning his illness and family suffering could have been prevented by education and relatively inexpensive education broke my heart. caesar's dream for the future to become a practicing physician and a scientist, to develop new and improved clinical diagnostic tools so doctors can diagnose and treat diseases better. close to 70 dreamers are enrolled in medical schools around the united states. why is daca important to him? any student like him who is in a medical school today, who wants to go on to a residency has to be able to work. residents work long hours in hospital while they're learning. if he didn't have daca, he wouldn't have legal permission, legal authority to work in this
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country. so no medical school will accept them for a residency unless he has that daca protection. why in the world would we let this young man's vigorous pursuit for education and brilliance be wasted? we need him. we need him in chicago. we need him in illinois. we need him in america, and many more just like him. the association of american medical colleges reports that the nation's doctor shortage will rise to 40,000, even 105,000 by the year 2030. both the a.m.a. and the association of american medical colleges have warned that ending daca will hurt when it comes to the physician shortage. they want congress to do something. listen to what the a.m.a. says. estimates have shown that the daca initiative could help introduce 5,400 previously ineligible physicians into the u.s. health care system in the coming decades to help address physician shortages and ensure
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patient access to care. removing those with daca status will create care shortages in rural and underserved areas. without these physicians, the concern that the quality of care provided in these communities will be negatively impacted. mr. president, i know you're from the state of north carolina. my state of illinois, we have some great big cities and we have some great small towns. and many of my best small towns in rural areas from my end of the state are desperate to make sure that they have good doctors at their local hospitals and people available in the community. we can't afford to lose caesar. we can't afford to lose the thousands of others the a.m.a. tells us are poised to become doctors and to fill our need across america. this aging population of our country is going to need doctors and nurses and physical therapists more than ever. and if these young people can answer that call, they'll not only be serving our nation, number one, but they'll be serving their own goals to be part of our nation's future.
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now it's up to us. we're supposed to leave here in a matter of days, and that means that those of us who are serious about this issue have to do something, something meaningful and important, and do it quickly. mr. president, i ask -- i see my colleague on the floor here. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to the thank my colleagues who are on the senate finance committee and the senate budget committee for getting us to the point we're at today. i think we're approaching a vote to move to full debate on the tax bill. absolutely amendable by every idea that has anything to do with taxes and raising money. and so people will have every right to be heard.
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it's been a process that has gone on for a long time. but what we've seen happen over the last three decades, after an incredible effort in 1986 to simplify the tax code, to bring it up to date, to make it competitive, what we've seen happen is a tax code that gradually has gotten more and more complicated. too many loopholes that don't seem to be fair to everybody involved. it's not as much sometimes the tax rate you're paying as your understanding that somebody else has figured out in a competitive business or not even the same business, how to find that tax loophole that meant they weren't paying their fair share of the taxes. and our tax code depends on a sense of fairness. it depends on a sense of equity. the out-of-date tax code means that some of the rates, particularly in international competition that might have been just fine 30 years ago, just
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simply aren't fine today. other countries have continued to reduce their taxes, understanding like many of our states do in this country, that tax policy that works means an economy that grows. and many of our competitors figured that out, and right now we have a chance to join them and figure it out as well. so there's a chance here to make a generational change that will last for, i would hope at least a generation, as the structure. we can do that by lowering corporate rates which in 1986, before either one of us got to congress and a decade or more at least, in 1986, 35% was kind of in the middle of the countries we compete with. in 2017, it's at the very top of the tax structure of the countries we compete with. and even though they're well below us now in the tax burden
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they put on companies that compete with us, they're lowering their corporate rate already, even the middle will soon be, as it turned out to be in the last three decades, the middle will be the top. but at least this gets us back to the middle, shifting to a territorial system where if you make money in another country, there's no penalty to bring it back here. mr. president, there is no doubt that we will bring hundreds of billions of dollars back to the united states economy if we pass this bill. some of the estimates are we may bring $2 trillion back. you know, we've had stimuluses in the past decade where every steam got $100 or something like that and thought that was a big stimulus. a $1 trillion stimulus, a $2 trillion stimulus, unbelievable in that money that's been sitting someplace else by companies who want to invest it here but who weren't going to bring it back under the old tax
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system. if they had brought it back their shareholders would have probably removed men and women from the leadership in the company -- removed them from the leadership in the company because it would have not have been good business but it will be good business to bring them back if we pass this bill. we'll allow immediate expensing. spend the money now and get credit for it now. those kinds of things grow the economy. it will make us more competitive worldwide. it will grow investment. and when those two things happen, higher-paying jobs have always followed and will follow here. we're stuck in eight or nine years now of no growth in family income for hardworking families. the way to change that is, one, to take some of the tax burden away right now. and we're doing that in this bill. but two, to be sure that we create more competition for the hard work and the skills that they take to the workplace with them every day. we know that growth stemming
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from tax reform will have a positive impact on voters and they'll see the share of what's happening in the economy that, frankly, they haven't seen in the past. families in your state, families in my state need this kind of opportunity, and job creators need this kind of relief. last month the council of economic advisors estimated that the average household income would increase by $4,000 annually based on reducing the corporate rate to 20%. and the economy, of course, will grow in response to that. another study by a harvard professor and former reagan advisor, martin feldstein, found a 20% corporate tax rate would deliver a wage boost about $3,500. whether it's $3,500 one estimate, $4,000 another estimate, that makes a real
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difference to families that haven't seen an increase in their pay in a long time. this bill is supported by a majority of small businesses, the real engine that drives the economy. there's a section called 179 expensing. any time you start talking like a cpa, you're in trouble. but that 179 expensing for small and medium-size businesses, family farms and others lets you expense immediately when you add it to investment, when you bought a piece of farm equipment, something like that. all of that is enhanced in this bill. the way we keep track, accounting i don't think is the most exciting thing to talk about in the world, but this allows the kind of counting measures that businesses say they need to really simplify how they report, how they do business. and that is right here. there are some specific missouri
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examples just like there are in every one of our states. jim sheldon who owns a business, d.t. engineering, a manufacturing company in lebanon, missouri, they produce industrial automation systems. and when jim was interviewed by the national association of manufacturers and asked what tax reform would mean to his company in terms of investment, hiring, growing his business, he just said it means more business. this is a quote. his quote is, more business, bringing work back to the united states will increase order rates, inventory and development. it will create growth for d.t. engineering. jim also said that benefits from tax reform will allow him to -- again his quotes -- reinvest and reinvent. spend more money in what they're doing and figure out ways to do it better. mr. president, that's how you compete. mike decola who owns the
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business h.b.m. holdings in solution was also interviewed by n.a.m., the national association of manufacturers, people who make things. any time we get into that economy and strengthen that economy, we strengthen take-home pay.t but he was interviewed by n. amie. he was asked what this tax reform would mean to his business. he said, quote, tax reform will unleash investment, not just for us, but for our customers. that's where his quote ends, but that's a really important point to understand. when everybody is doing better, whatever you're doing is likely to get better as well. not only does the business get better for you, but suddenly the people you sell things to are more interested in also innovating and investing and improving. senate bill also recognizes a couple tools that really help us go in and revitalize areas that aren't doing so well. one called


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