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tv   U.S. Senate 10042017  CSPAN  October 4, 2017 1:29pm-3:30pm EDT

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foreign intending financial crisis. this was before things looked really bad. how would our current financial system stand up to this sort of canonical crisis? on the whole, i would is a i that the u.s. economy is well-positioned to weather such a retrenchment in risk-taking. this was about a year and a half before the economy just began to implode. he was in a high position with -- in the treasury department and he had access to all the information he might possibly want he said the economy is well-positioned to weather such a retrenchment. the same speech as the potential harm posed by increases in mortgage payments, he said, we well, that's certainly large number. it represents only a small hit to aggregate personal finances -- to aggregate personal income. moreover, market reports indicate that borrowers using such nontraditional mortgages tend to be upper-income individuals who can manage a
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sizable increase in their monthly mortgage payment. he concluded by saying, fundamentally the economy is strong. the financial sector is healthy. this was 2006. we will surely face challenges in the future. we can take comfort that our financial system has proven remarkably resilient to all manner of adverse shocks in the past. end quote. that was a lot of comfort to the millions of americans afflicted by the financial crisis. my wife and i live in cleveland in zip code 44105. the year after mr. quarles made that statement, and the economy started to really tank, my zip code had more foreclosures than any other zip code in the united states. i know what that does to a neighborhood. i'm not confident that mr. quarles took to heart the lessons of the financial crisis. he is another example that this administration, which said it wants to drain the swamp,
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instead looks like a retreat for goldman sachs executives. the number of people at wall street that have influence in our government is just far and away worse than we've ever seen it. putting mr. garls, who should know better, but apparently didn't from his statements at the federal reserve in charge of financial regulation is just the wrong thing. in 2015 when he was asked about dodd-frank is he said the macroissue is the government should not be a player, it should be referee. in the practice and the policy in the legislation that resulted from the financial crisis tend to make the government a player. they put it on the field as opposed to simply reffing the game. how could they think that when he was part of the government when it didn't do its job and didn't do the job that regulators are supposed to do? in response to questions for the record for his anonymous, he stated my approach to policy making and particularly regulation has been that the discretion of policymakers and particularly of regulators should be as constrained as
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possible. so he's really saying kind of let wall street do what it wants to do, let wall street run our financials -- financial sector of our economy, and government rules -- government regulators should step aside. as vice chair for supervision, as a member of the federal reserve board of governors, mr. quarles will be making decisions about risk-based capital, about leverage in acquitted requirements, about resolution plans, about concentration limits, about risk committees and stress tests and other important safeguards put into place after the crisis for the nation's largest banks. the crisis showed we need strong financial watchdogs, not, as he said, constrained ones. if confirmed, i'm not sure who mr. -- whom mr. quarles will be working for, taxpayers and working families or wall street. let me close by reminding my colleagues that last congress, the banking committee refused to consider president obama's nominees to the federal reserve board. mr. quarles is the first nominee
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that president trump has chosen. there are currently three other vacancies. the term for chair of the federal reserve expires early next year. because of that, president trump will likely fill at least five of the seven federal reserve board seats which are 14-year terms. again, if the first one is someone that is so close to wall street, what does that tell you about who's in the white house, what does it tell you about the advisors in the white house, what does it tell but that executive retreat for goldman sachs that i talked about in the white house? if all the nominees to the fed are like mr. quarles, average americans may once again pay the price. we can't return to a time when financial watchdogs are asleep on the job. there seems to be this collective amnesia in this body, in the white house, in the banking committee, collective amnesia about what people in our country went through in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and 2012, and that was in large part because of the influence of wall street in our government. we can't let that happen.
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that's why, mr. president, i urge my colleagues to oppose the nomination of mr. quarles to the federal reserve. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: mr. president, i move that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i'm not aware of any of the missouri constituents that i work for that wouldn't like to see a tax code that was simpler, that was fairer, that did more to create jobs, that was better for individuals that they understood. i don't have anybody come up and say what can we do to complicate the tax code further?
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or what can we do to make us less competitive? or how much more of my money would you like to have to do what you think the government ought to do? i don't have anybody say that to me. and so we're now at a time when we have the tools available, we have the focus available that will allow us to move in the right direction. for almost a decade now hardworking families and hardworking individuals have had to deal with below-average economy and below-average wage growth in that below-average economy. now surely we don't want that to be the new normal. i kept hearing the last three or four years that 2% growth, that's what we should expect now. the growth since world war ii has averaged 3.4% for over 70 years, but suddenly we were told 2% is the best we can do. i understand that even counting the great depression, the
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growth in the entire 20th century was over 3%. what do we need to do to get our economy growing in a way that creates better opportunities and better jobs? why would it create better jobs? because you have people who are looking for workers who are more eager to pay and keep a workforce and a growing economy than you do an economy that's not growing. you have people who understand they can compete better if they have a workforce that's the workforce they want rather than the workforce they just happen to get and that there's competition for that workforce. so our goal here in tax reduction and tax reform should be to help families and individuals keep more of their hard-earned money, to empower people who invest in their own future in ways that we currently are not encouraging or just simply not allowing because we don't want you to -- don't let
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you take enough of the money home from work that you make at work, to make it easier for families to see a pathway towards success and not to penalize people when they make the right decisions. you know, the tradition has always been if you want more of something, you don't tax it. you don't regulate it. you encourage it. and we need a tax code that encourages more success, that encourages higher take-home pay and better jobs. most people don't realize it, the individual income tax is still the source of federal money. more than half of all federal taxes collected come from the income tax. so how do we get more taxpayers -- not how do we take more from the taxpayers we have -- should be one of our goals.
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this is, you have perhaps the greatest voluntary compliance in the history of the world is how americans have complied with the income tax system. and the more americans think that the system is fair and understandable and everybody else is being treated the same way they're being treated, much more likely to comply with that system than a system where they hear that some company made a lot of profit, but because of the complexity of the tax code, they paid zero taxes. or this neighbor has figured out that and that neighbor has figured out that. and because of the tax code, you worked just as hard as they did, but the federal government somehow got a lot of your money because you hadn't set up your tax planning in the right way. tax planning doesn't need to be that difficult. right now the tax code has seven individual rates. we're proposing three individual rates that maybe could go to
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four but that will still barely be half of the number we have now. if it got to, individual rates, more than 100 deductions and credits and exclusions that people use when they fill out their tax form. and people pay billions of dollars, american people collectively pay billions and billions of dollars just to figure out how much of their money the federal government is going to get. you know, most people would like to have the certainty of a postcard kind of form that you filled out. but instead they see this system that's gotten increasingly complex, often not indexed for inflation. so you start with something that you think is going to only apply to a few people, and before you know it, it applies to a whole lot of people. i think when the alternative minimum tax was added in the tax code, there had been 155 individuals, wealthy individuals that hadn't paid any
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income tax. and so the federal government decides, congress decides we're going to put the alternative minimal tax in -- minimum tax to be sure that those 155 people that are clearly wealthy people are going to pay incomes tax, that no matter how much they have gamed the tax system they're still going to pay an alternative minimum tax. 155 people. this was just a few yearsing a. -- years ago. by 2015 the 115 had gone to 4.4 million paid the alternative minimum tax. unbelievably successful if you're trying to collect people's money in a way they don't understand. not very successful if all you were trying to do was to prevent 155 wealthy people a couple of decades ago from being able not to pay any tax at all. took a shot at 155 people and wound up getting 5 million.
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that's unacceptable. that's not what the tax code is supposed to do. we need to work hard to simplify that. the alternative minimum tax, by the way, there are 14 pages of instructions that just tell you or more likely your tax preparer how to comply with the alternative minimum tax guidelines. 14, i was handed yesterday, i don't have the one page with me but it was one page of instructions for the tax code in 1913. by the way, the estimate was that not only would not many people pay it, nobody would ever pay it because you wouldn't pay anything unless you made at least 3,000 which in 1913 was a lot of money. but one page of instructions. now we have one page of index to the hundreds of pages of instructions. 14 of those pages are just for the alternative minimum tax. when you fill the form out there are 64 different lines that you
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use to calculate how now almost five million people are impacted by part of the tax code that was designed for 155 people. we can do a better job. we can do a better job of being sure that hardworking families get to take home more of the money that they've earned with that hard work. and we can also do a better job with the rest of the tax code to be sure that we're creating the kind of opportunity for us to compete as a country, us to compete as a nation, us to be more fairly aligned with the other countries in the world that we compete with to be sure that those hardworking families have better jobs with more take-home pay to start with. i mean if you're working hard for a living, as americans do, we're a working country. and the best of all circumstances is you have a better job than you used to have and less money comes out of every dollar you make.
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that needs to be our goal. whatever we do on the individual side needs to be focused on that. whatever we do on the job-creating side needs to be focused on that. if we do that, we will not have the people we work for coming and complaining, what have you done? the tax code is too simple now. it's too easy to fill out my tax form. i'm walking out on friday with more money than i used to walk away from. by the way they tell me there's a better job that i can apply for. that's what we ought to do, mr. president. i hope we keep focusing on that and get this tax bill passed this year. and i would yield my time. i think gentleman from georgia has come to talk about this same topic along with senator barrasso from wyoming. i yield the floor, mr. president. mr. isakson: i thank the senator from missouri and i make the point i've enjoyed the last 19
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years serving in the united states senate. he was elected two years before me to the house of representatives. i came a little bit later but i preceded him in the senate in 2004. he has been great to work with in the show-me state of missouri. like my state of georgia, they're proud of their country, they're proud to be americans. they're proud of the chance to have an opportunity to make an honest living. they want to be a part of a country that continues to grow and prosper for the future. we had a hearing in the finance committee where there was an interesting study i had not seen before. it had been done by a harvard student that i assume was correct. that 90% of the people born in the 1940's end up making more than their parents did when they went to work but only about 40% of the people born in the 1980's will end up making more than their parents did meaning that as we've gone along the way since world war ii we've taken more and more away from the opportunity at the earning level and more money has gone to different places like taxation. personally i think the finance
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committee and the leadership of the big 6, so to speak, have done us a great favor to open the debate on tax reform in america. unlike some of the debates we've had recently, this debate is open-ended. we're starting with a framework, not an absolute dictate but a framework. we're talking about an opportunity that we have to see if we can lower the burden of taxes on the american people while incentivizing the american people to work more, to make more, and to earn more. there are two ways to increase revenue to the government. one, you can increase the rate of taxation. but then you are not necessarily taking any more money. you might incentivize somebody to go somewhere else. another way is to improve the opportunity to make money and the atmosphere in which people make, so they invest their time and their effort and they grow their revenue which grows the revenue of the united states of america. the proposal in the framework before us has any number of outlines, any number of targets. the three things i want to focus on, actually four. one is the middle class.
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i've gotten tired of hearing this reference of dividings us up as americans by class. we're all americans. regardless of our station in life we're all important and the code ought to be important to every single person who is an american that they can come to this country, improve their life, raise their children and live a good life. i'm not into a class society. i'm into an opportunity society. if you take a look at this proposal, it proposes for those of you who are put in the middle class today, lower rates, less brackets. and more opportunity to gain wealth in the future through work, through investment, and through earnings. secondly, this framework encourages job creation. i know that people are always demonizing the rich. most people who are rich are providing the people who aren't rich with jobs. i don't think it's bad to provide people with jobs. weech need a tax code that incentivizes the creation of jobs. the focus on the pass-through rate talked about by the big 6 may lower the pass-through rate to 25%. it's a job-creating proposal
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that works. i ran a sub"s" corporation, been a partner in limited partnerships. offensive known people who had sole proprietorships and nonpartisan operations. they all -- independent operations. they don't pay at the corporate rate. they pay -- the profits at the end of the year or the sub s corporation under the ordinary income tax rate. c corps pay a top rate of 35%. if that goes to 20% and the 25% rate is applied to pass-throughs, companies will be able to form new companies, build opportunity and, in turn, build jobs. it motivates america to create more jobs. with jobs comes income, with money comes investment and at the end is profit which ends up
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being taxes and revenue for the country. we're not as competitive as we used to be in large measure because of the code that we have not because we're not competitive people. americans, by themselves, were explorers to get here, americans, by themselves, are investors and inventors, americans by themselves are risk takers. we want to improve on every competitive opportunity we have. the current code we have suppresses competitiveness. this proposal by the big six takes us to a territorial tax system. we are one of the few countries in the world that taxes the old way. we are the biggest competitor in the rest of the world. it's time that we put an end to a company making $1 in india and then bring it back to america and pay the differential in america. we need to have tax money where
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it's earned. you don't have to do repatriatation because the tax code doesn't induce those things to happen. we can bring the money back here to hire people, invest, build new products, take them overseas and sell them. there is nothing more important than going to the territorial tax. if you were the president of a major american corporation and you're getting ready to have your stockholders meeting and you want to show how the profits will improve and in turn the net of profit and turn the dividend for the stockholder. if you have an office in america, you are taxed at 35% in america. if you have a competitive company in ireland it is taxed at 12.5%. you might think if i take my company and move it to ireland, i could put the differential on the bottom line. when your tax code causes people
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to think about things like that, you are predicting a future for a country that is not as bright and rich and as important as it should be. everybody thinks i'm a city slicker because i'm from atlanta. i did come from working on a farm and i love farmers and i love farms. i know one of the proposal of the big six is to do away with the estate tax. a few years ago we exempted states that are $5 million or less from estate tax and now it is higher. the tax rate used to be 5%, it is now 40%. but in my state of georgia, the tax is about 46%. so for a round figure, about half the estate of someone who dies in our state, after the first $5 million pays a tax close to 50%. a lot of people says that rich people taking benefit of the tax code. i don't call being dead in order to call a tax benefit a good
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idea. i don't think that's a benefit to me. because if there's an estate tax who pays that tax who would inherit the assets, those are normally the children, the spouse, or maybe the employees. you have ever thought about this? if somebody was taxing you at 50% or close thereto and you file your first estate tax return after you're dead and this is the value of your estate, you'd be telling the government, okay, you get this half, my children, wife, and family get the other half. when you go back to the well a year later, those kids who inletterred the -- inherited the business, another quarter is gone. you reduce it down to 25% and liquidate something and pay a one-time exit. we should take the things that people have worked for and tried
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it their best to build and have an incentive for them to take that and leave it to their heirs and leave it to their farm to the tax paying mode so america benefits and they benefit. because you're not taxing something doesn't mean you're not taking advantage of your country. the estate tax, by abolishing the estate tax, you will put more money over time in the treasury of the united states of america than you will taxing one time at 50%. as we enter this debate. i have been joined on the floor by my colleagues, let's talk about what incentivizes innovation and competition, what puts more money in the pocket of the middle class american today and creates more people in the middle class and -- in the future to give them a fair place to compete and the competitive drive that americans will use to the benefit of our country. i yield back.
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the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, it's always such a privilege to come to the floor and speak and hear senator isakson speak, the senator from georgia, who speaks so eloquently and comes here and makes perfect points. and he's talked about the tax system looking to the future. what we have is a tax system that looks backward. and regrettably we had a treasury secretary a number of years ago who said that we should have a tax code that looks like someone who designed it on purpose, and that's what we are looking at now. the person who really understood this is ronald reagan. as we look at tax proposals, it's not about taxes, it's about much, much more, it's about a better life for the american people. ronald reagan said that tax reform is the door for a
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brighter future and full of heart as the american dream. and that's what we're here talking about today, a bright, big future, as big and bright as the american dream. that's what we're aiming at with this plan, a big and hopeful future for all americans. it starts with amount of money that americans get to keep in their pocket as a result of their hard-earned paycheck dollars. that's the most important thing. that's what i hear about every weekend in wyoming. under the outlined that republicans have proposed, every working man and woman in this country will be better off,s that our goal, make -- off, that's our goal, a strong, healthy economy. that's what we're hearing about on the -- today on the floor and what we heard from the senator from georgia. when we cut the amount of money that people have to pay in taxes, essentially it's like giving them a raise. that's what this is about, giving people a raise.
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we want working people to keep more of their hard-earned money and one way to do that is by doubling the standard deduction. the current standard deduction is $12,000 for a couple joining -- filing jointly. the republican plan doubles it to $24,000, that means that $24,000 of a couple's income will not be taxed at all. beyond that, we will recuse the -- reduce the number of tax brackets. we'll move people into lower brackets. isn't that what we're trying to do? yes, it is. if you used to be in a bracket paying 25%, there is a pretty good chance that your income will be moved down to the 12% range. for most peoples that like getting a -- people that's like getting a raise and that's what republican tax relief looks like. the second thing we want to do is make it simpler many we
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talked about lowering the brackets, making it simpler for everyone who does taxes. the instructions that you get from the i.r.s., the 1040 tax form, the instructions are 106 pages long. s that if you limit -- that's if you limit yourself to the deduction. when more people take the standard deduction, they can save a lot of time and not go to the 15 worksheets, 106 pages of instructions, they get the standard deduction that is doubled making it easier and less time being spent on tax reform. what else are we going to do? we want to cut out the loopholes and complicated that most people will be able to fill out a form on a single page. think of the hours that that's going to save families. millions and millions of hours when you multiply it across the country. plus think of the stress that he people won't have to be living
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under wondering if they actually followed the instructions properly. call the i.r.s. helpline, you get different answers from different people you talk to. it is hard to get a single answer because the complicated system makes it hard to get the answer right so you end up with the expenses of hiring lawyers, tax accountants, people that can help you navigate a complicated system, people are looking for simpler lives, more free time, more money of their own that they can keep, not complicated forms so the government takes more of their money. so there is a lot of room, mr. president, for us to improve the simplicity of the tax system and the actual challenges that come from filling out the forms. the third thing we want to do, of course, with the plan is is get -- plan is getting the economy growing faster, strong economy, more prosperity, higher take home pay in the paychecks. with that you get an economy that creates more jobs, more
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people working. it is a direct benefit for american families. when you cut taxes on small businesses, they can afford to hire more people or use the extra money to pay their workers more. there's lots that can be done through that level of prosperity in individual paychecks as well as more people in the workforce. under the outline that the republicans have released last week, mr. president, the top rate for most small businesses is going to drop from almost 40% down to 25%, allowing the businesses to pass on those savings to their customers and the savings to their employees. well, larger businesses are going to get a tax break too. the idea is to lower taxes for everyone. when you take a look at it from the standpoint of a business owner, 70% of the cost of taxes doesn't get paid by the corporation it gets paid by the people who work for those businesses. if you we cut the taxes, more money will go to the workers
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with higher wages, more benefits, better jobs, and businesses can lower the prices. every time the cost of a tax increases, what does it do? businesses have to raise the cost of the product to collect the tax and send it to the government. i would rather have that money going to the people who are shopping in the store rather than in the pockets of the federal government. senator isakson was talking about something called repatriatation and the action of money that is taxed for businesses that do some business overseas. if we can cut the taxes that they earn overseas, it means to this those -- that those businesses can bring that money back to the united states and spend it here. how much is it? right now $2-point of trillion is sitting over -- $2.6 trillion is overseas because they get taxed twice, once on the business overseas and when they bring it back to the united states many we get that money back, that will grow the economy
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here as well. it makes sure that the american tax code will be helping american businesses and the american economy, not helping foreign countries. we need to get that money back and put it into the united states. those are all the things that the republicans are proposing. it means more money in the pockets of american workers, simpler taxes, and more jobs for american workers. isn't that what we're looking for, mr. president? isn't that what healthy prosperity means? is that a healthy economy, job growth, the sort of thing that happens when we get the kind of tax reform that we proposed. i want to address one other thing that i heard over the past couple of days as our plan has come out. i heard some say that under the republican plan certain people win more than others. mr. president, under the republican everyone wins, we have a growing economy, people keep more of their hard-earned money. that's the goal. -- that's the goal.
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that's why the president and republicans in congress want to take up tax relief right now in the first place. we need to do this to help all american families. you know, this gets back to be ronald reagan's quote, tax reform, tax deduction, tax relegal, it -- relief, it means a big and hopeful future for all americans. it should be the goal of every american, to make taxes fairer, simpler, lower for everyone. there are too many people in washington right now, mr. president, who want to use america's tax laws to punish or reward one group of americans or another. too many people in washington who want to use this debate over tax reform to stir up conflict and resentment. we hear it in the talking points of the democrats. there are some democrats in this senate who thinks that good -- think that's good politics. it is terrible policy and terrible for the direction of our country and the economy. the tax plan that the
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republicans have released this last week does nothing to change who bears the burden of taxes in the country. people who have been fortunate who earn high incomes will pay their fair share, people who earn less will pay less. that's how the tax burden is spread today. there's nothing in this plan that changes that. ee swr a lot0 of work -- we have a lot of work alet of us -- a lot of work ahead of us. we will have to figure out the some of -- the size of the tax credit that families get. this is important details. that's the kind of debate we will have. a tax bill coming through committees. i'm so grateful to senator hatch, to members of the finance committee for all of the hard work that they're going to be putting into this over the next several weeks. but, of course, i'm going to revert back to the quote from the treasury secretary bill simon who said, the nation should have a tax code that looks like someone designed it on purpose. this is our chance. this is our chance, mr. president. we need to make sure we take
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full advantage of it. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. a senator: thank you. as our previous speakers have indicated, this is a critical time within our country, and we have the opportunity to make some very good decisions that will impact our nation for literally generations to come. mr. rounds: reforming our tax code remains a top priority, not only for myself but for many of my colleagues and the president. we are committed to delivering tax reform that will provide more jobs, bigger paychecks, and a fairer tax system for the american people. over the eight years of the previous administration, economic growth has averaged a paltry 1.5% annually which is about half of the post-world war ii average. this anemic growth has led to
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stagnant wages, and according to the joint economic committee has cost families an average of $8,600 in income on an annual basis. it is no wonder the half of the american public say they are living paycheck to paycheck. this is simply not acceptable. even more concerning, the congressional budget office is projecting economic growth to remain under 2% over the next ten years if we do not act. if that happens, let me just share with you the real concern. if we allow economic growth to stay under 2%, then we literally bring in receive new based upon the size of our economy. if we allow economic growth to move at a paltry 2% or less, then we don't have the revenue to pay our bills. today, even right now, we're looking at trillion dollar deficits. and yet if you take a look at
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where the dollars are going, they go basically -- if you look at our entire budget, about 28% of the money that we spend today is found within the 12 appropriation bills which make up the defense and the nondefense discretionary side of the budget. all of the remaining items making up 72% are areas of mandatory payments. medicare, medicaid, social security, and interest on the debt. but if we don't do anything and if we continue on this same path with the type of growth that we've had, then we can expect within nine years now, by the year 2026, our country's 250th birthday, that 99% of all of the revenue that we take in, 99% of it is going to go into medicare, medicaid, social security, and
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interest on the debt. that means 1% remaining for the defense of our country, for roads, bridges, research, education, all of those other items that many people really want to see that help us to move ahead as a country. so we have to make changes now that will allow our country's economy to grow and prosper the way that it used to, the way that we believe we do that is by changing our tax code, changing the regulatory environment in the united states, and sending that message back to the businesses that this is the place where they want to do business, that they don't have to leave our shores in order to actually make a profit and to be able to keep that profit. it is our intention to deliver policies that will jolt our economy, allow hardworking families to keep more of their paychecks, and provide financial opportunities to lower and middle-class families. and tax reform is a vital
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component of this. our current overly complicated tax code is more than 74,000 pages in length and takes americans more than 8.1 billion hours each year to file their taxes. a fairer, simpler tax code will go the economy, increase wages for american families, improve american competitiveness over seas and provide much needed certainty for our business community. it has been 30 years since our tax code was last reformed. the rest of the industrialized world has learned from america what it takes to be competitive. they've seen what our tax rates have become. they have lowered their tax rates, and they are now inviting businesses to their shores rather than to ours. businesses that can go any place in the world they want to are not choosing america as their location anymore. we have to change that. because when they come back, they bring good-paying jobs with
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them. they keep the profits here which are reinvested within our borders, rather than overseas and that adds to a growing economy here which allows us more revenue through even lowered tax rates. the average corporate rate in united states today is 39% compared to 25% by our foreign competitors. this puts american businesses at a disadvantage right out of the gate. we must reform the tax rate to one that incentivizes business to remain here in america and keep good paying jobs from going overseas. doing so will unleash the full potential of this american economy. one thing we can all agree on is that taxes are too high and tax rates no matter who you are should be lowered. allowing all american families to keep more of their hard earned dollars by taking it out of the hands of washington and back into their own pocketbooks will result in more prosperous
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americans and that means more people investing in america long term. and when our economy is healthy, every american will feel the positive effects. i'm encouraged by the ongoing discussions and progress being made to alleviate the tax burden on american businesses and hardworking families, and i will continue to work with anyone serious about lowering taxes and reforming the code to provide a much needed boost to our sluggish economy. the american people deserve better than the stagnant growth and uncertainty still lingering from the previous administration. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate again the opportunity to speak today. like last week, i didn't plan on speaking on this subject so my staff were probably once again wondering what the boss was going to say. i was thinking that maybe we can translate a little bit about what we're trying to do here with tax reform.
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because we talk about tax rates, exemptions, exceptions, simplification, all of this stuff which is important because it gets baked into the bill, but we don't spend a whole lot of time explaining why we're trying to do what we're doing. the last time that we had really meaningful and impactful tax reform was back about 1986. and that's when republicans and democrats came together and decided that the stagnant economy that i grew up in -- i graduated from high school in 1978. i didn't go immediately to college. i moved out of home when i was 17 years old and i was working. it was an economy that's not unlike today. in many respects, maybe a little bit worse. the environment was the same. iran was behaving badly. russia was behaving badly. we had the same sort of global environment that we have today. we had the threats that we have to confront every single day. and we had the threat to the future of a generation.
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i mean, literally people that had no earthly idea if they were getting an education if they could get a job because the job creation numbers back when i was a 26-year-old were terrible. people were worried about whether or not they can pay for college. so why are we doing tax reform? we're doing tax reform because it's time for this american economy to grow back to what it's capable of doing and would it's done in the past. we need tax reform so we can create economic expansion that lets us pay down our debt which many people in the military say it's the single greatest threat to our national security. we need tax reform, we need to grow the economy because we owe it to this generation to have the same opportunities that i did. and it can be done. but we have to do it probably through reconciliation because right now even though many of the proposals that we're putting forward, the tax rates, the kinds of policies that we're putting forward have been supported by our colleagues and
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many of my friends on the other side of the aisle they don't make sense anymore. they made sense back in 1986 when democrats and republicans joined together to do tax reform, and many people if you were in your mid-20's then, then you saw prosperity unlike anything we've seen really up to today's times. so the last time we saw a great growth in our economy. we need to get back and provide those same sorts of opportunities. people will tell you we're not giving a cut to the little guy or the working man. one thing you don't see when you see the percentage rates we're talking about on individual tax rates that we're targeting is that there will be tens of thousands of people that will pay zero taxes. there's actually a zero tax bracket. there are people because of the exceptions and exemptions that we're proposing will actually fall below having a federal tax liability. we need to talk about that. we need to recognize that we have to -- we have to provide relief to the entire spectrum. the businesses that hire people and create jobs to the working families and the people who
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don't make enough to where we can take anymore away from them because they need it to pay their bills. they need to pay their electric bills, their utility bills, their school tuition, all the other things that working families are struggling to do today just like i was struggling to do back in 1986. so i hope that this congress will deliver on the promise that we made last year to cut taxes, to get this economy moving again, and to provide the same opportunities to the generation going to school and the people who aren't in school who are struggling to make a living and get the same opportunities that i got when i was that 26-year-old back in 1986. and, mr. president, we can do it. i know we can do it because we've done it before. it's a promise we made and it's a promise we need to keep. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania.
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mr. casey: mr. president, i know we're not in a quorum call. i'll just proceed with my remarks. thank you very much. i wanted to speak today with regard to a month that we set aside or i should say the equivalent of a month. it spans two different months, and that's national hispanic heritage month. the united states is home, as many know, to more than 56 million people of hispanic or latino ethnicity comprising over 17% of the nation's population. and we set aside the time period between september 15 and october 15 to mark national hispanic heritage month. this month is a key reminder of the vibrant culture and substantial contributions that people from the latino community have made to our nation. although we have only a 30-day time period as a designation, we
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recognize the contributions made by latinos in this country every day, not just between september 15 and october 15. i've held a number of meetings with latinos and latino leaders this past year in pennsylvania and here in washington. recently, just a couple weeks ago as well to discuss issues of concern to hispanic americans and latinos. the resounding theme i heard from pennsylvanians is a strong economic drive that latinos and hispanic americans share. as a second fastest growing minority in the united states, the hispanic communities' economic power continues to grow. small businesses are the backbone of our economy, both in pennsylvania and across the nation, and latinos are 1.4 times more likely than the general population to become
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entrepreneurs. in fact, latinos own some 3.3 million businesses in the united states accounting for more than 40% of all minority-owned businesses. together these businesses generate almost $500 billion in economic activity. overall, the latino community accounts for a combined $1.3 trillion -- that's with a t -- in economic activity. their contributions are projected to top $1.7 trillion by 2020. so from 1.3 to 1.7 in just a few years. last month i was proud to join many of my senate colleagues in designating the week beginning september 18 as national hispanic serving institutions week. this resolution recognizes the achievements and goals of the
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472 hispanic-serving institutions known by the acronym of h.s.i. these h.s.i.'s are throughout the nation and they improve their local communities and play a vital role in expanding access to college for students across the country. these h.s.i.'s represent 13% of nonprofit colleges and universities, yet they enroll 63% of all latino students. these hispanic-serving institutions are located in 18 states and puerto rico. i'm proud to be a cosponsor of the resolution, which recognizes the important work these institutions play in expanding access to higher education for everyone. this year hispanic heritage month has become a month of advocacy and action. i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the dream act.
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this issue has been on the forefront in recent discussions, not only among the latino community, the hispanic american community, but with many of my constituents across the board, and i'm sure that's true in every senate office. dreamers shared with me the hard work and struggles they have endured to be successful in this country. ending daca, in my judgment, is wrong. first of all, it's wrong to break a sacred promise to hundreds of thousands of people living in our country, young people who were promised by their government if they came forward, they would be protected. ending daca would be breaking that sacred promise. in pennsylvania alone, estimates say that ending daca would cost the commonwealth of pennsylvania nearly $3 57 million per year in g.d.p. losses to our state, and that's according to the center
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for american progress. ending daca would interrupt a loss of -- would result in a loss of $463 billion -- not million, billion -- from the nation's g.d.p. over the next decade, again according to the center for american progress. so it would be a betrayal to violate this covenant with hundreds of thousands of young peoplers and it's really a bad move for the economy of my state of pennsylvania as well as the economy of our nation. i was proud to vote for the dream act in both 2007 and 2010 and i hope the senate have a clean vote on the dream act soon. we should be focused on humane and commonsense solutions -- solutions -- that keep our nation safe as well as allowing it to thrive. hispanic americans are a vital
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part of the fabric of american society. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: and i ask unanimous consent that my intern, nisa
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kerner have privileges to the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: the most powerful words in our constitution are the first three words: we the people. it sets up the mission statement for our nation. or as president lincoln put it, a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. our founders did not start out our constitution with the words we the powerful or we the powerful and privileged. they didn't proceed to say that our form of government is all about the powerful and privileged ruling for themselves to make themselves richer at the expense of everyone else. thus, going back to the foundation, the vision of our nation is appropriate because our republican colleagues have put forward a document, a budget with a tax plan that is all about government for the
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powerful. it's all about self-serving government for the privileged. nothing about fighting for a foundation for ordinary people, to be able to thrive here in the united states of america. indeed, the plan put forward by my republican colleagues is a plan fit for a king. fit for a king living in a gilded castle. maybe fit for king trump living in trump tower. but certainly not for working america, living and striving to build the wealth of america. no, not a plan for them. a plan for the king trumps of our nation who believe that they can deceive the country again and again and again by putting forward an argument that they're going to do something to help the people while writing it for
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themselves. we can take a look at this and realize the president himself leads the effort to do the sales pitch when he unveiled his tax plan at the national association of manufacturers last week, president trump said, my plan is for the working people. he continued. he said there is very little benefit for people of wealth. and he went on to say i don't benefit. i don't benefit. he repeated it twice. well, one can simply say that as soon as you look at the tax plan, you see this as wrong and wrong and wronger. he had sent out his other secretaries to reinforce this message. secretary mnuchin showed up on the shows and said the objective of the president is that rich
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people don't get tax cuts. well, that's a little bit of lawyerly work there. didn't want to confront the reality that this plan is all about tax cuts for the wealthy. that's why he said, well, the objective wasn't to do that. well, let's talk about the reality. the bottom third economically here in america, they get zero help from the tax provisions of this plan. none whatsoever. plus the broader budget slashes medicaid about $473 billion. you know the one thing that has improved for working people, it's been tougher in a blue-collar community to get a full-time job. it's been tougher to get a living wage. it's been tougher to save for retirement with pensions disappearing and employer-supported retirement
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and savings plans disappearing. one thing got better, and that's access to health care, thanks to obamacare. in my state, over half a million oregonians gained access to health care. it didn't just help them. it helped everyone. the uncompensated care went way down in hospitals and way down in clinics which meant stronger clinics and stronger hospital services for everyone in the state. everyone benefited. so the one thing, the one thing's that improved for working america, republicans in this chamber want to rip it away, stomp on it, destroy it, shred it, couldn't bear the thought that working americans might finally have affordable quality health care. couldn't stand the vision of health care as a right. they wanted it to return it to health care being only for the wealthy and the healthy, but not for ordinary working people. it left the bottom third totally
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unhelped and in fact hurt by this plan. how about middle third? the middle third, 25% of the middle third, the taxes go up, not down. they go up. the tax bracket goes from 10% to 12%. and for the seniors in middle america, this plan takes $ 1 trillion away from medicare. not only do my republican friends hate having health care for working people, they want to destroy health care for older americans at the same time. so if the bottom third don't benefit, and the middle third have taxes going up, who benefits here? simple answer: it's the billionaires. the billionaires, the millionaires and billionaires of america, that's who this plan is written for. let's just look at the provisions that cost so much money to the treasury.
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the alternative minimum tax wiped out. we remember how the rich and powerful rigged the system so they were paying no taxes at all so we here in america say if you're wealthy in america you should pay at least a little. the one tax return we have for president trump, he paid tax because of the alternative minimum tax. that's the only reason. so when president trump says he doesn't benefit, well, clearly, that's wrong. and if he knows it's wrong, it's a lie. but let's just say he's either incredibly ignorant or trying to be incredibly misleading about the fact that this would benefit him enormously to get rid of the alternative minimum tax. well, it's the second thing it does. whereas it raised the tax rate at the lowest bracket for working americans, it lowers the tax rate for the wealthiest
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americans from 39.6% to 35%. that's a pretty huge reduction that is benefits people at the very top who are wealthy enough to be paying in the top bracket. certainly president trump, by his own description of his own affluence, would be in that category. so clearly he benefits enormously from that. and then third huge provision, getting a special rate for pass-through entities. let's say you own a big development and it generates a lot -- like a shopping complex or trump tower -- and it generates a lot of money and you pass it through to pay your personal taxes from your limited liability corporation. instead of being charged 39.6%, the current rate or 35% at the lowered rate, or at the corporate rate, no, you get this special, special deal on
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this pass-through of 25%. so you paid an enormous amount. who benefits from this? the people who own l.l.c.'s are the ones who benefit from this. who has a lot of l.l.c.'s? who has by various estimates hundreds and hundreds? i heard an estimate of over 500 l.l.c.'s that the president has. if he has hundreds that are lowered from a 39.6% to a 25% rate, he benefits enormously from this, as do all of his millionaire and billionaire friends. finally the estate tax. now this one, i have to admit that president trump doesn't benefit today because he hasn't died. but when he dies his estate would benefit massively.
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and if he's taking out insurance to be able to pay his tax bill when he dies, then he has to take out less insurance. in that case it does benefit him today and most of all individuals do do that kind of insurance investment to pay the estate tax. very small number of americans virtually who call into this category. that very small number have a whole team of financial planners and that means that, yes, even though technically you wouldn't pay the tax benefit until he dies, he pays less for the preparation of payment. for the a.m.t., for the lower tax bracket, for the pass-throughs, for the estate tax, every single one the president benefits enormously. so there you have it. nothing for the bottom third. the middle third get hit with medicare being slashed and also with an increase in taxes for a good share in them.
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but the billionaires at the top, they benefit enormously. and let's be fair. the president understands this. his advisors understand it. his cabinet is full of the types of individuals at the very top, the 1%, the .1%, full of the richest americans. they wrote this plan for themselves and to hurt the rest of america. that's shameful. well, there's another provision that the president has put in that probably helps himself and that's cutting the corporate tax rate to 20%. it's keeping with the president's demonstrably false statement as the u.s. is the most taxed nation in the world. simply absolutely not true as a percentage of g.d.p. and we've seen the share of tax revenue that companies pay decline and decline. and but here we have the argument that somehow there will
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be prosperity because we reduce the tax rate. so let's look at those companies that already pay less than 20% in corporate taxes. because there is a big difference between the nominal rate, the stated rate of corporations and the reality of what they actually pay. a report from the institute of policy studies indicate 92 of u.s. corporations that pay less than 20% in corporate taxes. what did they find? that these firms have median job growth, and you think i'm going to say 20%? no. 10%? no. 5%? no. zero? no. negative 1%. negative job growth even those these companies paid less than 20% in corporate tax. while the private sector job growth over those years is a whole 6% positive. those who were paying less than 20%, negative 1% growth.
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while the entire private sector grew with job growth at 6%. in fact, during that period, these 292 firms that were studied, in fact, just a fraction of them, 48 of them together eliminated basically about half a million jobs. so they had very low taxes, and the argument is well, they'll do more. because they don't have to pay as much taxes. they'll expand the number of people they hire. but instead they slashed half a million jobs. just 48 of these firms that pay less than 20% -- and what happened to the c.e.o.'s of those firms? their salaries went through the roof. part of the plan here, you cut as many people as you can. and if you have net profit increase, and sometimes even if you don't, you get a big increase. if we take this as a model of
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what the president wants to achieve, he wants to empower other companies to follow his track of having this model of slashing hundreds of thousands of jobs and jacking up the salaries of the richest c.e.o.'s in the country. who were these companies? at&t had an effective tax rate of 8%. wouldn't it be nice for middle-class america to have an effective tax rate of 8%? while they had that beneficial 8% tax rate, they slashed 80,000 jobs and doubled their d.o.e.'s pay -- their c.e.o.'s' pay. think how many people would have had a better life if they raised their pay by a dollar an hour. but, no, the c.e.o. slashes 80,000 jobs and arranges to pay himself $28.4 million. or how about g.e., which boosted
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its c.e.o.'s pay nearly $18 million in 2016 while cutting 14,700 jobs over nine years and achieving a negative tax rate -- a negative tax rate. get that. they didn't pay a dollar to the national treasury, not a dollar. they had a negative tax rate. the company got more money back from the government than it paid in taxes. how about exxonmobil? between 2008 and 2015, they had an effective tax rate of 13.6%. that's way below 20%. so did we see in that time period a significant growth in the number of people they employed because they got this hugely beneficial 13.6% tax rate? no, we did not. in fact, they cut their workforce by a third, their global workforce by a third. and at the same time the c.e.o. of that company, who just happens to be our secretary of
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state at this moment, saw his compensation grow to $27.4 million. so the record shows that these companies that are getting these low ta tax rates are slashing tr employees and boosting their c.e.o.'s salaries. is that the model that makes for a prosperous middle class in america? slash jobs and a dramatic increase of inequality in this country? that's why this entire tax plan and budget are so diabolical. about everything contrary to we the people, a vision of basically hijacking the national treasury to inflate the wealth of the wealthiest in america while doing as much harm as possible to working americans, rewarding companies for slashing
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hundreds of thousands of jobs and inflating the salaries of their c.e.o.'s. so here's the question that every member of this chamber should ask: is your priority adding more zeros to the bank balances of millionaires and billionaires? is that your mission? are you at work here not representing the people of your state but just millionaires and billionaires? if you are, then the republican tax plan and the republican budget, you should be full-throated supporting on the floor of this senate. but if you believe in the mission of the united states of america, a w we the people americas providing a foundation for families to drive across this land, then there is no -- thrive across this land, then there is no choice. take this budget and take this tax plan, destroy it, burn it,
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put a stake through its heart in every way possible. and i, for one, believe in this mission of we the people. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. senator is ricked. mr. durbin: i ask consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, many lobbyists around capitol hill perform an important task of informing members and their staff about issues that are going to come before us. some of them are volunteers and some of them are paid very handsomely. but there is a special group of lobbyists that are roaming the corridors of the house and the senate today and tomorrow. they are a uppeople -- they are
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young people from across the united states. many of them l are college students. all of them have one thing in common -- they're dreamers. they are people, young people, who came to the united states under the age of 18, many of them two years old ar four years old, brought her by their parents. they grew up in this country. they went to our schools, some of them were excellent students, many of them have gone on to college or at their own expense many times. some have even enlisted in our military. they have a nagging problem. the problem is they are not legally citizens of the united states. they don't have a legal status in the united states. and so the uncertainty about that status has led many of them to wonder what their future will be. about five years ago president obama, at my urging, i might add, issued an executive order which changed their lives. it was called daca, and it gave them a chance to come forward,
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register with the government, submit themselves to a criminal background check, fingerprinting, pay a $500 fee, have their background looked at in detail, and to give them chance to stay in the united states for two years at a time, and in that two-year period not be subject to deportation and be able to work. well, four weeks ago, president obama -- president trump, rather, announced that the daca program is going to be resounded. many of these -- rescinded. many of these young people don't know what their future is going to be from in point forward. a number of them came out to the steps of the capitol this afternoon to talk about their lives. two in particular i wanted to mention. nationally bertrand from columbus, ohio, is a student who graduated from college after great sacrifice and has gone ton become an engineer. she is currently working in the
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columbus area for a global automotive company. she has a bright future, if she is allowed to stay in the united states. she doesn't know the answer to that because we haven't come up with with a replacement for daca that was rescinded by president trump. jesus perez is from tulsa, a he had given up on a college education and future. then daca came along and he decided he wanted to become a doctor. he is on his way. he has finished community college he is now about to complete his studies at oklahoma state and wants to go to medical school. he works as a transporter and a surgical orderly in a hospital to make enough money to stay in school. his future completely in doubt because of the uncertainty of what's going to happen to those who were protected by daca. mr. president, i've said it many times -- these young people were brought here by their parents. they didn't make the decision. i don't want to look negatively
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on their parents. if i were given a choice about skirting the law or even breaking the law to save my child's life or to give them security and safety, i know what i'd do, and i know what these parents did. but the kids themselves were not in on that decision process. and now all they're asking for is a chance to be part of the only country they've ever known. they get up in the classroom every day in school, pledged allegiance to the only flag they ever knew and most of them can only sing one national anthem, the anthem of the country they believe is their own: the united states. that's an important part of this conversation. if we believe in fairness and justice in america -- and i think we do -- we want to be fair and just to these young people. if they have not done something in their lives that's dangerous or commit a crime, for example, that's serious, they ought to be given a chance. if they're willing to go to school or to work or enlist in our military, why wouldn't we welcome them in so they can be part of our future as they
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should be? the alternative in many cases is to ship them back to a country they cannot remember and never really knew, to a language they don't speak. that's not the right outcome. i want to thank lindsey graham of south carolina. he is my republican cosponsor of the dream act. senator graham has been a stalwart. he and i may disagree on an issue every other day but on this issue we agree. we agree that america should step forward and do the right thing for these young people. i hope these lobbyists -- i'll give them that term -- who are dreamers who are roaming the halls of congress will make the same impression on members of congress that they made on me that their special lives and their special future will make this nation a better nation in the years to come. mr. president, on a separate issue at a separate place in the record, there are a lot of issues -- mr. president, at this point i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the question now occurs on the hargan nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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