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tv   U.S. Senate 10172017  CSPAN  October 17, 2017 2:15pm-7:11pm EDT

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growth of the last decade. i urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support america's hard-working families and employers and help put our nation on a better course. approving this budget focused on progrowth tax form does just that. i yield the floor and reserve the balance of the time. >> mr. president. >> senator from vermont. >> we believe this to be from earlier today while lawmakers are expected to resume debate on the 2018 budget resolution. they will gamble back in. live coverage of the senate. an amendment numbered 1116. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent are the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: i would ask unanimous consent that when we're in a
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quorum call during this ... i'd 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. durbin: mr. president, i come to the floor to discuss the republican tax reform plan and what impact it will have on the fiscal health of our nation, but especially the impact it will have on working families across the united states and in my home state of illinois. i've represented illinois and congress both as a house member and a senator for a number of years. i'm proud to say that during my career i have not shied away from tackling big issues, maybe one of the toughest assignments i've ever had was in 2010 president obama created commission on fiscal responsibility and reform known as the simpson bowles commission. i was one of 18 democrats and republicans given the
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responsibility to balance america's budget and reform our spending program and our tax code. this is no small task, but it was an important one. we spent month after month in bipartisan meetings working at it. nearly a year after the commission was created, we were asked to vote on the final report. simpson bowles was not a perfect plan, but i decided to vote in favor of the report and i knew it would be controversial. but i believe then, as i do now, that there is only one honest way to reduce debt, cut spending, raise revenues, do not ignore the tax code. bowles-simpson did that. it raised revenue by ee little naturing a lot of the exclusions and deductions and efforts in the tax code to reward certain companies for special interest. it cut spending for defense and nondefense.
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to say nothing of the month's long bipartisan, there's simply no comparison between the simpson-bowles deficit redux plan and what the -- reduction plan and what the republicans want to bring to the senate and house this year. simpson-bowles was about balancing our budget responsibly. it raised had nearly $880 billion in revenue over the decade. it boasted the -- boasted the standard deduction. it protected middle-income families from back-door cuts. and, and i underline this, it ensured that the wealthy in america paid their fair share of taxes. if there is one thing i can never understand, it's why republicans in the name of budget deficits or tax reform always end up in the same place,
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always cutting taxes on the wealthiest people in america. where in the world is that coming from? i met a lot of wealthy people in the course of of my life, not one of them with a straight face has said to me, senator, i desperately need a tax cut. they don't, and yet that is the fall back default decision on every republican plan. importantly, the simpson-bowles plan provided details on the choices necessary to reach our goal. there's simply no comparison between that comprehensive bipartisan plan to balance the budget and the highly, fiscally irresponsible tax reform plan before us now that will literally add $2.4 trillion to the national debt. how many times have members on the republican side of the aisle come to the floor to pose for holy pictures and to preach to us about the deficit. now that they are in the majority and have a president in
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their party, what do they do? proposed aing -- adding $2-point had trillion to the debt. where are the ones who spoke out admonished the democrats. where is my colleague the majority leader of the senate who was so quick to rail on the, quote, alarming level, close quote, of our national debt during the obama years? he's silent now. even the most stalwart fiscal hawks on the right are falling behind this phony plan which would allow for $1.5 trillion in unpaid for tax cuts, clinging on to the economic growth projections no responsible economist would dream of. they used to call this economic theory of cutting taxes on the rich and economic rich, a
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laugher curve. it is a laugher, and this laugher curve inspired the governor of kansas to bring that state to near fiscal ruin trying to apply that great theory and watching his state crumble in the process. history has proven that tax cuts simply do not yield economic growth. the economic growth promises of the bush tax cuts turned out to be completely false. those tax cuts for the wealthy ballooned our deficits and our debt and contributed to a scandalous rise in income inequality in the united states of america. tax cuts don't pay for themselves, and i know my republican colleagues know that. and when republicans rose that the estimates do fail, the republican budget spells out exactly how they plan to pay for the tax cuts, on the backs of hardworking americans. and listen to this.
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to pay for the tax cuts for the wealthiest people in america, the republican tax reform plan, get this, cuts $1 trillion in cares for medicaid and $470 billion in cuts for medicare. think about it, cuts for elderly will take a $470 billion cut for a tax reform. and for what? to give tax relief to the wealthiest in our country. and $1 trillion in cuts for medicaid? what is medicaid for? isn't it just health insurance for the poor? in some respects that is a good general description, but it is so much more. the medicaid program, which republicans turn to time and time to cut, is critically important for parts of america. half of the children born in the state of illinois are taken care of by medicaid. their mothers are taken care of
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before the baby is delivered and after. plus, it is the number one source of health insurance for the disabled across america. they want to cut $1 trillion out of it. i haven't even gotten close to the most expensive part of medicaid. two-thirds of seniors in america in nursing homes count on medicaid to pay for their medical bills. the republicans want to cut $1 trillion out of medicaid to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in america. what's going to happen to those folks in furs -- you nursing homes, what will happen to those who count on medicaid, what will happen to those mothers and their babessies? that is a -- babies? that is it a legitimate question. this does not involve fake economics, it involves real families across america. while claiming to fix our broken tax code, this republican tax reform plan would instead
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provide nothing short of a windfall to the wealthiest in our country and stick hardworking families in illinois and across the country with the bill. under the republican plan, listen, no less than 80% of the benefits go to the top of 1% of wealthiest americans. 80% of the benefits to the wealthiest people in america. that's more than three-quarters of all tax breaks to people making more than $730,000 a year. is that why members were elected, to take care of people making more than $737,000 a year? not in my state. what about the middle income americans? the republican plan would raise taxes on nearly one-third of americans would make between $50,000 and $150,000 a year, a third of them will pay higher taxes. that's not tax relief for working families. in fact, the republican plan
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would eliminate the state and local tax deduction, a deduction used by one-third of all taxpayers to reduce their tax bill. that has been part of our tax code from the beginning. and here's the theory. we believe in the current federal tax code you shouldn't pay a tax on a tax. basic. if you're paying $1,000 in property taxes where you live right now, should you be taxed on that $1,000? under the current tax code, no. you're able to deduct state and local taxes. the republicans eliminate that deduction. if they have their way, families with homes, families paying sales taxes will be paying a federal tax on the state and local taxes that they pay. this deduction currently allows families that pay state and local income or sales taxes to deduct those taxes from their federal income tax. in other words, this deduction prevents families from double
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taxation once by the federal government and again by the state. and yet the republicans eliminate this deduction. in illinois we rank fifth in the nation for people who are helped by the state and local tax deduction. my taxpayers that i represent will be hit especially hard. nearly two million illinoisans, roughly a third of the taxpayers in my state, claim more than $24 billion in state and local tax deductions in 2015. if republicans have their way, almost two million people in illinois would be double taxed on an average $12,500 of earnings. that is just plain wrong. republicans would have you believe that state and local tax deduction only helps the wealthy, but most people who take this deduction make less than $200,000 a year. even families who do not claim the state and local deduction will see their taxes increase under the republicans' so-called
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tax reform plan. the republican plan eliminates the personal exemption worth $4,050 a person. a family of four making $50,000 a year in my state will pay $887 more under this part of the republican tax reform plan getting hit by losing the state and local tax deduction and then turn around and losing a personal exemption, a family of four in illinois making $50,000 will pay $887 more a year just on that provision in federal taxes. what are the republicans raising taxes on my middle class for? they're raising taxes on middle-income families to provide massive tax cuts for corporations to the tune of $2.6 trillion over the first ten years and, mr. and mrs. america, sleep well tonight. we're going to take care of that with economic growth.
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here's the reality. corporate profits are soaring in america. today corporate profits in the united states of america as a share of gross domestic product are at record highs. corporate taxes paid to the federal government as a share of g.d.p., record low. what is the republican approach to those two facts? cut more corporate taxes. wouldn't it be good to hear someone come to the floor and said, instead of just looking at corporate taxes, why don't we look at corporate employees. how are they doing? we know how they're doing. they're falling behind. they're more productive than ever. the corporations are more profitable than ever and, yet, the disparity in income in america gets worse. we've got the best workers in the world, no apologies. they do great work. they don't get paid enough. the answer on the republican side is, give the corporations more tax breaks. i'd say the answer should be
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something else. why don't we address the fact that c.e.o.'s in america make 271 times the average wainl of their employee -- wage of their employees. 271? come on. if they're going to head up these corporations, of course they're entitled to be paid more. their profitability, their entrepreneurial spirit, their talent and all the rest but 271 times? american workers are still waiting for their pay raise and they won't get it with this republican tax reform plan. while american workers and their families continue to wait for their turn, the republicans seem to be determined to provide tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy rather than make the tax code work for working families. this has to stop. it's time we looked at tax reform and economic growth in terms of the family room, not the boardroom. the very successful warren buffett has said, and i quote him, my friends and i have been
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-- long enough by a billionaire friendly congress. it's time for government to get serious about shared sacrifice. thank you, warren buffett. i agree. if republicans want to get serious about fixing the faulty incentives in our tax code and provide working families some relief, it's time they stop clinging to the laugher curve and this failed trickle-down policy that giving a tax break to the wealthiest person in america could only help the poorest people in america. i know these are difficult and complex issues. it's no secret in washington how difficult tax reform can be. but these are issues that deserve robust bipartisan debate. now is not the time to abandon any semblance of fiscal responsibility and rush through this deficit exploding plan that has no prayer of paying for itself with growth. i hope my republican colleagues will look beyond the boardroom and seize this opportunity to reward and incentivize
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businesses to make real investments in the united states and its workers. look at this tax code. if you own a big business in my state of illinois and want to move your business out of illinois to mexico or china or you name it, we're going to give you a helping hand. our tax code says that the cost -- the moving expenses, deductible. you don't have to pay taxes on those. we're going to give you a break to move your business. what are we thinking? for goodness sakes why don't we have what senator sherrod brown and are are introducing as an amendment a patriot employers tax break, a patriot corporation tax break. you keep your business in illinois. you keep your business in ohio. when your work force grows, it's american workers who get the jobs. and the wages that you pay for 90% of them have to be at least 15 bucks an hour. you've got to provide health insurance, a basic retirement plan that is fair, and give a
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veteran's preference please, to the men and women who served our country and you know what? we'll give you a tax break. we won't give it to the company ready to move overseas. we'll give it to the company ready to invest in the united states and u.s. workers. now that i think is a tax policy most americans would say makes sense. why aren't we talking about that kind of an approach instead of finding a way to give a tax break to the wealthiest? american work eshes and families are watch -- workers and families are watching this debate, and they're still waiting for a better deal. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest 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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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore, the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, this week the senate will vote on a budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. while there are many elements of this particular resolution, most of this chamber's and the public's attention are on the reconciliation instructions related to tax reform. before i go too far, i first want to thank chairman enzi and all of our colleagues on the budget committee for their work on this resolution. chairman enzi has been a critical player in the ongoing effort to reform our broken tax code and has worked to craft this budget resolution and move it out of committee has been
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critical to this effort. for the next step, he's going to need help passing the resolution here on the floor. i think we'll get there. specifically, this budget resolution contains a $1.5 trillion reconciliation instruction for tax reform. that is a good number. putting meaningful tax reform within reach. as the debate over the budget and the instruction moves forward, i think it is critical that everyone understand what tax reform will do for our country and perhaps, more importantly, what will happen if we fail. tax reform has been the chief focus of senate finance -- of the senate finance committee for years now. in the six and a half years i've been the lead republican on the committee, we've had about 70 hearings focused on the tax code. in the vast majority of those hearings, we have heard both
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democrats and republicans acknowledge the inefficiency of our country tax system. with very few members having spent their time and energy defending the status quo, which is not at all surprising. our current tax system imposes undue burdens on middle-class families. our current tax system is obscenely complex, riddled with credits, exemptions and deductions, many of which were designed to benefit special interests. our current tax system's complicated rate structure makes it difficult for families to plan and for some workers creates a disincentive to work for additional earnings. our current tax system subjects american businesses and job creators to the highest tax rate in the industrialized world. our current tax system creates incentives for businesses to move headquarters and operations
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offshore, eroding our nation's tax base. and our current system has forced companies to keep trillions of dollars offshore, preventing further investment and growth here at home. reform to this broken system is long overdue. the last major overhaul to our tax code was more than three decades ago. even if the tax code hadn't changed dramatically since that time, the economy of 1988 was dramatically different from the one we have today. of course the code has undergone a number of piecemeal changes since the 1986 reform, but that approach has left us with a system that simply does not work. fundamental change is what our tax system needs. change that takes the entire system into account and change to create a tax code that at the very least looks like it was designed on purpose. that's what we aim to provide
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since the senate and the house passed a consensus budget resolution. on the finance committee we're working to craft legislation pursuant to the guideposts in the iewn fied framework -- unified framework released last month. our bill based on the uniform tax reform -- unified tax reform fame work will give much-needed relief to millions of low- to middle-income families. it will level the playing field for americans and for american job creators and promote more investment in the united states. in the end, all of this will mean bigger paychecks for american workers, a more vibrant u.s. economy and more american jobs. but without this budget resolution, mr. president, we're unlikely to get there. don't get me wrong, i would like to produce a tax reform product that could get 60 votes.
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i spent years asking my democratic colleagues to meaningfully engage in this effort. to be sure, there have been democrats who have been willing to put themselves out there on the tax reform in recent years, including former finance committee chairman max baucus and our current ranking member, senator wyden. but they have generally been the exception. when president obama was in office, many democrats typically only talked about tax reform in the context of raising revenues to fuel additional spending, which isn't tax reform at all. it's simply raising taxes. under president trump, the focus of least among many in the democratic leadership seems about preventing passage of anything that could be deemed as a view for republicans in congress. perhaps i'm wrong about that, and i hope i am, but when we're talking about tax reform these
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days, most of the talk of my friends on the other side of the aisle has been about unreasonable and unprecedented access or process demands. that's unfortunate, mr. president. there are a number of -- there are numbers -- there are a number of areas of tax reform where democrats and republicans are largely in agreement. those areas include middle-class tax relief, bringing down the corporate rates and fixing our international tax system to make american companies more competitive. given these shared concerns, i'm still hopeful that some of our democratic colleagues will join us in this effort. and i remain willing to work with any member of the senate who wants to engage in this effort in good faith. historically speaking, tax bills that pass through the
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budget reconciliation process tends to have support from both parties. in fact, when republicans have held the white house and congress, purely partisan tax reconciliation bills have not been enacted. that being the case i think the unified framework envisions a tax reform approach that both parties can and should support. long story short, i haven't given up on producing a bipartisan tax reform package. but once again, we need to pass this budget resolution if we're going to move the ball forward. that being the case, i urge my colleagues to support the resolution before us this week and to work with us as we develop tax reform legislation that will help middle-class families and job creators throughout the country. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor, and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: mr. president. the presidingthe presiding offie senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i would ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, the first step to achieving the goal
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of overhauling our antiquated and uncompetitive tax code is passing a fiscal year 2018 budget resolution. we have made that first step in that journey earlier today. but no one should be confused about this, that a vote for the budget is a vote for tax reform. conversely, a vote against the budget is a vote against tax reform. now, i don't know anybody in america who thinks that our tax code is a paragon of simplicity, efficiency, and virtue. to the contrary, i think most americans realize that our tax code is simply too complex, that our tax code punishes taxpayers here at home by keeping money earned overseas overseas rather than being brought back home and invested in jobs and wages here in america.
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but the budget resolution will steer our nation into a safer and sounder fiscal course through a combination of restraining spending, reducing tax burdens, and strengthening our economy. strengthening our economy, i think, really needs to be the focus like a laser that we have on what we're all about here, trying to get the economy to grow again faster. we know that since the great recession of 2008, that our economy has experienced anemic economic growth, but last quarter, we saw our economy, instead of growing at the annual rate of about 1.8%, it grew at 3.1%. why is that important? well, when the economy grows faster, that means that people are finding more work to do, they're paying their taxes to the treasury, and it eases the
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financial burdens of the united states government while allowing people to keep more of what they earned in their pocket. but here are some of the goals that we are attempting to accomplish by the ten-year budget resolution. we, first of all, want to try to restrain federal spending, parts of which go up at the rate of 5.5% or more a year. that's about 70% of what the federal government spends. and i know most people focus on the 30% that congress appropriates, but really that's not the biggest part of the problem. that 30% includes about 600- 600-plus-billion dollars for defense spending alone, but the 70% of the money that is spent on auto pilot three mandatory spending programs grows at the rate of about 5.5% a year. that's the reason why we are seeing huge annual deficits and
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unsustainable debt, so restraining spending is an important goal of our budget. reducing nondefense discretionary spending is also important. you know, part of having a budget is establishing your priorities. that's what we do in our household budgets. that's what we do in our individual budgets, and that's what countries need to do in their budget. we need to determine what is our number-one priority? well, i happen to believe that the safety and security of the american people is our number-one priority, and that's why i believe defense spending is so important. and while there are other things we'd like to do, just like there are other things we'd like to be able to buy as an individual or as a household, sometimes you simply can't afford it, recognizing the priorities that are important to you and to your family. and defense spending is the number-one priority of the federal government. nobody else can do that. we can't do it as individuals.
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we can't do it as states. so that's why it needs to be our national priority. this budget also provides for a maximum level of defense funding allowed under the law while allowing an adjustment of an agreement on revised funding levels is reached, and it provides a glide path to an on-budget surplus, leaving aside social security entirely. most importantly, the budget will provide congress with a road map forward, and the goal of being able to pass tax reform and ultimately allow middle-class americans to keep more of their hard-earned pay. helping working families is one of the most important benefits of tax reform, but it's not the only benefit. equally important is enhancing our nation's competitiveness in a global economy and achieving growth for our job creators. we have a self-inflicted wound caused by our tax code when
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competing with other countries around the world. we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. why is that important? why should we care what corporations pay in taxes? well, because that influences how much money is paid to shareholders. it influences how much money can be paid in wages to the people employed by businesses. and what we have seen, frankly, is a negative incentive for companies to move their businesses overseas. about a week or so ago, i remember reading an article -- i think it was in "the wall street journal" -- that says i.b.m. now has more employees in india than it has in the united states. and i'm sure that's caused by a number of circumstances. perhaps access to the workforce, perhaps the markets that are available to the company, but i have to believe that at least
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some of that is caused by our tax code, that it's cheaper and more efficient and more cost-effective to develop those jobs and that business overseas than it is here at home. why in the world would we want to sustain that status quo? that's one of the things we're trying to do in our tax reform, is enhancing our competitiveness and achieving growth for our job creators right here in america. it should to be that reducing that business tax was a burn effort. 2011, when president obama was president of the united states, he gave a speech to a joint session of congress where he called it a national priority. recognizing that having the highest corporate rate in the world moved business overseas.
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and it hurt workers here in america. and the democratic leader, our friend -- our colleague from new york, has previously advocated for reducing that corporate tax rate because he recognizes the benefits to workers and working families right here in america. and so occasionally we have to remind them when they come out and say harsh and frankly untrue things about what we're trying to do, sometimes we have to remind them that they used to be for the very same things that we're now advocating for today. but there are other significant pieces, too, like those that affect people in my state and those who work in the energy sector. it's no secret that texas leads the nation in energy production. now, i know people think well, it's only about oil and gas, but we actually are the number-one electricity producer from wind energy in the country. so we believe literally in an
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all of the above policy when it comes to energy. but we know some parts of the energy sector, particularly those refiners and in the oil and gas sector spent the past month and a half struggling to recover from hurricane harvey, and at least 20 refineries were closed temporarily because of the storm. why should you or i care about refineries that are closed because of the storm? because all you had to do after hurricane harvey hit texas was to look at the price you paid for gasoline, and it skyrocketed because of the closed refineries. so it actually benefits the entire nation and consumers when energy prices are low. and operations have now resumed in some areas and thankfully some of those higher prices at the pump have dropped, but the hurricane underscored the need to ensure our energy sector's
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ongoing dine nism and -- dynamism and vitality. that's where tax reform can help as well. one proponent of our proposal is a territorial tax system. now, that means that all of the money of companies like apple, i.b.m., conocophillips, exxonmobil, all of these countries -- companies with headquarters here in the united states have earned money overseas. and you wonder why in the world wouldn't they want to bring that back to the united states and invest it in businesses and paychecks here in america? well, that's because under our current tax structure, they have to pay taxes on the money they earn overseas, but if they want to bring it back to the united states, they have to pay taxes again up to a 35% corporate tax rate on that same money. so they make the rational decision. they keep the money overseas. they build their businesses
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there, and they hire more workers abroad, and not here at home. why in the world would we want to maintain that sort of self-destructive status quo. so a new territorial tax system is going to be an important part of tax reform, and it's not to help big businesses. it's to help workers who are looking for work or people who are working who have had stagnant wages and are looking for a little extra in their paycheck each month. that's why it's so important. in addition, we plan to help decrease the cost of investing in things like new plants and equipment here in america. things like spencing rather than depreciating over many years investment in new equipment and new businesses. it is really important to encourage those businesses to modernize their plants and, again, to hire more workers.
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so tax reform represents an opportunity to cement america's position as the world's largest energy producer as well rather than one of those regulatory exercises that unfortunately happens far too often and ends up increasing the cost of creating jobs in the energy sector. i'll continue to be an advocate for the countless number of texans whose livelihoods depend on this sector of our economy while it continues to face challenges on a multitude of fronts. and again, getting back to my point about the price of gasoline, if we drive a car, we're all paying for gasoline, and it just makes sense to do what we can to help that price get lower, and we all benefit, and one of those ways we can do that is through regulatory reform and the second is through tax reform. i mentioned hurricane harvey earlier, but that's not the only
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one. additional challenge. another potential challenge i should mention is nafta. this is the north american free trade agreement. it's about a 20-year-old trade agreement that includes canada, mexico, and the united states. this is a topic i will have a chance to speak about further at the hoover institution this afternoon. but as most of us know, the nafta negotiations are ongoing. president trump has said -- at least his administration, whatever weinhauser and the commerce secretary have said their obligation with nafta is to first do no harm. and i really appreciate that, because nafta has been an important part of our trading relationships with mexico and canada and supports about 14 million jobs just in commerce between our three countries in
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north america. since the administration announced its intention to revisit nafta, i think it's important to revisit the critical role nafta has played in all north american energy markets, including electricity, renewables, oil and natural gas. as i wrote in a letter to the ambassador this summer, each market is highly integrated with and remains dependent on vital energy infrastructure and trade crossings that border the united states, canada, and mexico. free trade and the free trade agreements like nafta allow the united states to maximize the benefits of being the world's largest energy producer. but if you have been paying attention, you know that our energy industry has undergone dramatic changes over the past two decades. i remember when we were worried about having to import liquefied natural gas from places around the world to our own shores
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before the natural gas revolution took place here in america, thanks to improvements in technology and drilling techniques. now we have such cheap and plentiful natural gas, we can export that gas around the world. and it's just not an economic boom. it's a way for us to provide alternative energy sources to some of our friends and allies around the world, particularly in europe where mr. putin uses energy as a weapon and threatens to shut off energy supplies if these countries in his neighborhood don't cooperate. so opening mexico's energy market has positioned u.s. companies to meet mexico's needs for technical expertise and capital. and as my friends south of the border remind me, said the shale, the eagleford shale, which is one of the most plentiful sources of natural gas in the world, that it doesn't
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stop at the rio grande. so as we provide additional technical expertise and capital to mexico, we can expect for them to experience a sort of energy renaissance we ourselves have experienced in the united states. so during the nafta negotiations, we should seek to promote north american energy security by maintaining and protecting rules that reduce or eliminate barriers to u.s. investment in mexico and canada. opportunities like this are why nafta could benefit from an update rather than a repeal. former secretary of state george schultz reminded us yesterday in "the new york times" that nafta has helped a wide range of u.s. manufacturing industries like auto, electronics and aerospace become more competitive relative to their foreigner -- foreign competitors. secretary schultz also pointed out that increased competitiveness has fostered.
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it has resulted mainly from the development through the last 24 years of strong vertical supply chains to take advantage of economies of scale. thanks to nafta, economic production can take place wherever in north america it is most efficient. so let's remember all of this as negotiations continue. let's seek to preserve all of the good that we have inherited from nafta and update all that is outdated in nafta. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. flake: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, i rise today to speak on a much-needed topic of tax reform. the high rates and complicated nature of the current tax code are burdening individual taxpayers and make businesses less competitive on the global market. that simply has to change. it's been more than 30 years since we've passed major tax reform. and we're well past time. unfortunately, i recently learned of a serious threat to reforming the tax code called alpacas. what do these cute, mild-mannered cats have to do with federal tax policy? earlier this year i issued an oversight report entitled "tax rackets: outlandish loopholes to lower tax liabilities." that report demonstrated how
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clever accounting allows nearly anything imaginable to become a write-off, including alpacas. to illustrate the point, the report outlined how local and federal tax bills can be sheared by claiming exotic pets -- these exotic pets as livestock and turning backyards into barnyards. and that's when the fur really started to fly. alpaca owner associations that once brazenly touted tax fleece as a key selling point for the animals now feigned outrage at the suggestion. the association tried to pull the wool over the eyes of taxpayers by retaining a professional p.r. consultant. they launched a media campaign inundating my office and others with phone calls, with social media messages and letters with photos of alpacas. through slick reporting and aggressive lobbying, tax subsidized alpaca ownership was
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somehow presented as a bulwark of small business and flourishing middle class. if this were mere mention of a tax break costing $10 million annually and enjoyed by relatively few taxpayers that listed such an outmeasured and aggressive response, imagine the backlash we'll face when we're attempting to actually eliminate tax preferences benefiting powerful corporations and special interests to the tune of billions of dollars. there are over 200 loopholes buried throughout the tax code that collectively cost $123 trillion annually. again, 200 loopholes buried throughout the tax code that collectively cost $1.23 trillion annually. this exceeds the total amount spent annually by the federal government for all discretionary programs, which includes defense, education,
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transportation, foreign aid, and protecting the environment. these exemptions increase the bill for the average taxpayer. they also make the tax code so complicated that most individuals have to hire a tax professional or buy software to help complete their tax returns. at more than 74,000 pages in length, no one, not even those in washington who write the laws or enforce them, truly understands federal tax law. special interests are taking advantage of this confusion by hiring armies of accountants and washington lobbyists to dodge taxes and cash in on the complexity of the code. for example, developers are claiming, because there's a lot of home builders, claiming $8 billion in tax credits every year supposedly to construct low-income housing. but with fewer homes being built and no basic accountability requirements, it's nearly impossible to track how this money is being spent.
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the government accountability office, the g.a.o., which is investigating, said, quote, the i.r.s. and no one else in the federal government really has an idea of what's going on. the same is true with hundreds of other tax loopholes. a luxury yacht can qualify as a second home and can be eligible for a mortgage interest deduction. alaskan ship captains can expense costs for whaling as charitable contributions even though no money goes to charity and what he willing is illegal. -- and whaling is illegal. high rollers can write off the cost of gambling trips. the cost of losing lottery tickets can be deducted, a kind of scratchoff write-off. only the i.r.s. nose who's taking -- knows who's taking advantage of those loopholes. in order to achieve meaningful
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tax reform that makes the code simpler and fairer, we've got to be able to first evaluate who's benefiting from these loopholes, for what purpose, and for what price. that's why i'm introducing a tax expenditures accountability act which will publicly disclose the names of the corporate and special interests receiving tax credits and the cost of these tax credits. this bill requires the department of treasury to disclose the special interests receiving tax credits just as all other federal expenditures are currently disclosed on the public website usaspending .gov. sunlight is obviously the best disinfectant and i look forward to exposing many of these loopholes, eliminating them and returning savings to the individual taxpayers in the form of lower taxes. but as the alpaca lobby demonstrated, writing special
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breaks will expose every unfairness. washington's powerful special interests will mobilize and threaten to derail tax reform. many would rather protect these loopholes than allow taxpayers to keep more of their own paycheck. coming up short on reform is not an option. we've got to do it this year. individuals and businesses are suffering under a broken, antiquated tax code that is in dire need of fixing. we can't be deterred in efforts to achieve real reform that reduces the tax bill for everyone. with that, i yield back. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak up to ten minutes followed by the senator from washington -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. alexander: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i ask to speak for ten minutes followed by the senator from washington, senator
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murray from washington. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: senator murray and i, along with are other senators, will offer bipartisan legislation to create more choices of health insurance and reduce cost-sharing subsidies. these subsidies pay for copays and deductibles for millions of low-income americans who buy health insurance on the affordable care act exchanges. our goal is to stabilize and then lower the costs of premiums and to enable all americans to have access to health insurance. our legislation will be based on the four hearings and other meetings that the senate's health, education, committee held last month. these hearings and meetings were
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bipartisan. they were lengthy and they were remarkable in this sense -- they engained nearly 60 -- engaged nearly 60 senators from both political parties in extensive discussions. we not only had the four hearings which involved the 23 members of our health committee, we invited any other senator to come to a committee hearing ahead of time and meet governsors and state commissioners who were of iting -- testifying. we had extensive participation by 60 members of the united states senate through four hearings and a variety of committee meetings. in the process that developed that senator murray and i have agreed upon. according to witnesses at our hearings, according to the congressional budget office, without these cost-sharing
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payment reductions -- did deductions, premiums will raise, the debt will increase by $1,994,000,000,000 over ten years and up to 16 americans may find themselves living in counties where no company sells insurance in the individual market. now, imagine yourself, a 45-year-old songwriter in tennessee who loses her job, has three kids, goes out into the individual market and finds out she can't by health insurance because no company's offering it because we did not act. those are the consequences we're talking about. witnesses also testified that one way to lower costs for consumers is to give states more flexibility than the affordable care act now allows to design health insurance plans give consumers more choices. we have purposely limited our
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proposal to these, first, two years of temporary cost-sharing payments, and, second, amendments that would give states meaningful flexibility in using section 1332 innovation waiver that is already a part of the affordable care act. the problem with the waiver is that while it was designed to give opportunity for waivers, it was restricted. it limited the number of opportunities that states could use. it would be like saying to somebody, you can drive anywhere you want to in the united states as long as you end up in new york, nashville, or alabama. now, there are, of course, many other good and useful ideas that would improve federal laws regulating health insurance. there are many on the republican side and there are many on the
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democratic side. there are probably even ideas that both of us would agree on. well, mr. president, congress has been stuck for seven years -- seven years -- in a partisan stalemate over the affordable care act. most of that stalemate is about the individual insurance market. most people get their insurance from the government, medicare and medicaid. most of the rest of the people get the rest of their insurance from their employer on the job, that's 50%, 60% of americans. so only 6% of americans get their insurance in the so-called individual market. it's about 10,000 people in tennessee, but every single one of them find it important and every single one of them is terrified by the skyrocketing premiums and possibility that they may not able to buy insurance at all if we don't act. the best course is to take this
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limited bipartisan first step that would avoid the chaos that could occur during 2018 and 2019 if premiums continue to skyrocket and millions of americans find themselves without a way to purchase health insurance. once we complete this limited first step, we can take a second and a third step. i want to undersell this proposal rather than oversell it. it has significant advantages in terms of the cost-sharing reduxes which make -- reductions which make it more likely that the premiums will stabilize. it has significant advantages in changing the law so that states will have more flexibility in offering choices, which is another way to lower costs, but it is it only a limited first step. senator murray and i hope that we can present senate leadership, senator mcconnell
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and senator schumer, with a significant portion of senators. we hope that it will pass legislation, the house will agree to it, and the president will sign it. i have had encouraging discussions with president trump who called me on two different occasions encouraging me to work with senator murray to come to a bipartisan agreement. i'm grateful to him for that encouragement and i'm grateful to her. i see she's just come to the floor. for her patience and working on this so diligently for such a long period of time. i think the one other thing that senator murray and i can agree on is that we hope that our next legislative assignment is easier than this one. but i think we both also agree that the sooner we act, the better so that americans will have the premium of lower -- the benefit of lower premium costs and the peace of mind of knowing that they'll be able to buy insurance for themselves and
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their families. i would like to say through the chair to senator murray that i ask for ten minutes to speak and then i ask for ten minutes for her following me. so i'm about finished and when i'm through, she has the floor, according to my request. i ask consent to place into the senate at this point in my remarks a brief summary of the agreement that senator murray and i have. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, i have said repeatedly over the last several weeks, while it's important that the two of us as ranking member of the help committee come to an agreement, that's not nearly enough. because our real job was and is to see if we can find a consensus among a significant number of republicans and significant number of democratic senators that will cause this to be enacted, that will cause the senate to pass it and the house
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to pass it, and the president to sign it. in my opinion, we wouldn't have come to an agreement ourselves unless we thought that that was likely. i won't go into the specific provisions that are in this except to -- except to briefly summarize them. the first group of them make the section 1332 innovation waivers work by giving more flexibility. in new hampshire, for example, the state would like to use medicaid savings to help pay for the cost of its affordable care act waiver and this would allow that. in maine, for example, the state has applied for a waiver. the waiver has been approved but the use of the funding has not been approved. this would allow that. alaska, for example, oklahoma, iowa, all have waivers in line that they would like to submit to give a greater variety of
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choices in their state and hopefully lower premium costs but it's too restrictive in the current conditions. about the only sort of waiver that the current director of the center for medicare and medicaid services can approve is the alaska type waiver, which is a good idea where alaska took -- created a reinsurance fund which helped the very sick alaskans, immediately lowered premiums 20% for all other alaskans and then used the savings from the lower subsidies as a result of the lower premiums to pay for 85% of the cost of the fund. minnesota is trying a similar thing. maine did that on its own a few years ago. we have streamlined the approval process for those waivers so that that can be done more easily. i would emphasize that a number of these, while their limited ploams could not be done in a budget reconciliation process, they would have to be done with
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60 votes. the proposal also includes what we call a new copper plan, catastrophic insurance for all ages. we still keep the patient protections. that's preexisting conditions, et cetera. we still keep the essential health benefits, but we allow someone who is healthy and young, for example, to pay a higher deductible and a lower premium, if that's what they choose to do. we direct the health department of -- department of health and human services to go ahead and write regulations to encourage interstate health insurance compacts. we compromised on the outreach funding and have agreed that we will spend about twice as much or more than president trump wanted to expend but we'll do most of that by grants to the states. and, of course, we agree on two years of funding for the cost payments. finally, i would say that in we do not do this, according to the
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congressional budget office, joint tax committee and c.m.s., premiums next year will increase 20%. there will be $194 billion increase in the federal debt over ten years and up to 16 million americans might find themselves unable to buy insurance on the individual market. in my view, this agreement avoids chaos. i don't know a democrat or a republican who benefits from chaos. i thank president trump for his encouragement to me and to senator murray to try and succeed on n. i thank senator schumer, the democratic leader for creating an environment in which we could get to this point. i thank the majority leader, senator mcconnell, for despite his focus on tax reform for allowing us to work together and try to do this, and i especially thank senator murray who whoever she sets about to get a result, i found usually gets one. i could not have a better partner to work with on
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difficult issues in the senate. the one thing -- in fact, the one thing we probably most agree on, we found the most difficult to solve, and that is, in 2018, we want to make sure that the cost-sharing payments go to the benefit of consumers, not the insurance companies. i want that. senator murray wants that. the president wants that. my republican colleagues want it. i know democrats want it. we believe we have strong language in our proposed agreement to do that, but we are going to make sure that it's the strongest possible language. i thank the president. i look forward to working with senator murray over the next few days to see if we can find a consensus among republicans and democrats to present to the senate leadership. i hope we can then pass it. the house will pass it and the president will sign it. i thank the president. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington.
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mrs. murray: mr. president, i want to thank chairman alexander for his tremendous work on n. i'm very grateful for his leadership in starting a bipartisan discussion, under regular order, in the help committee and his determination to seeing it to this point and beyond. i remember clearly back in july when it was clear the so-called skinny appeal didn't have the votes to pass. we talked right then and there on getting to work on ways to stabilize the health care market and pocket patients and families from premium spikes as a result of the uncertainty this administration has caused. we were able to engage nearly half the senate in our hearings and conversations on the help committee and we found there was a lot more we agreed on than disagreed on when it came to strengthening health care and controlling costs in the near term. since then actions by the administration have made our work more urgent. so, mr. president, i'm very glad democrats and republicans agreed to work together to address
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this, and i'm extremely pleased with the input of members on both sides of the aisle as well as governors and patients and advocates, we were able to reach an agreement that i hope will set the health care discussion in congress on a very different path than the one we've all seen for the last seven years. this agreement provides certainty on out of cost reduction payments for the next two years. it will address attempts by this administration to keep people from getting enrolled in the care they need and it takes a number of very strong bipartisan steps to offer states more flexibility to innovate in the way the affordable care act intended without undermining the essential health benefits, like maternity care or mental health coverage or burdening people with preexisting conditions. this is an agreement i am proud to support, not only because of the important steps to strengthen our health care system but because of the message it sends about the best
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way to get things done in this congress. the way to deliver as a result as chairman alexander often says for patients and families is to work under regular order, find exon ground -- common ground rather than retreating to partisan corners, hear from our experts and our families and members on both sides of the aisle rather than reciting talking points to each other. we know that's true because just a month ago the idea of an agreement between republicans and democrats on health care seemed impossible at best if not improbable. thanks to the strong bipartisan work of chairman alexander and many of our members, we've been able to bridge the divide. i strongly believe that patients and families in every state across our country will be stronger if we can get this agreement signed into law. and i urge my colleagues to not only support it but continue working together because there's no question we have work to do here. so i want to thank chairman alexander and all the republicans and democrats who have been so engaged in this
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effort and i echo his comments about what's in the bill. i won't repeat them, but agree with his last comments that we both want to make sure that the patients go to consumers and we're working on that language and assure our colleagues that is our joint intent as we get this language finalized and put into place. so again, mr. president, thank you for the short amount of time during a busy day on the floor, and i again want to thank chairman alexander and committed to working with him to get this done in the right way for the people in this country. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. a senator: mr. president, i rise to -- the presiding officer: senator, -- the senate is in a quorum call. mr. heinrich: can i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call and speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i rise to speak to this deeply flawed budget that is terrible for america and particularly harmful to working families. the republican plan that we face today is a budget busting first step towards issuing massive tax breaks to special interests and to wealthy individuals. this proposed budget fails to improve economic growth or to drive up wages.
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and it should look awfully familiar to all of us because it's a retread of the failed trickle down economics that exploded our budget deficits in the 1980's and swawndzerred -- squandered the budget surplus we had in the early 2,000's. that trickle down theory ruined our budgets and failed to grow the economy then and we cannot afford to relive those failed policies now. our nation faces significant economic challenges today that need to be addressed directly. wages have barely improved in the past 20 years. the cost of education, child care, and other essential living expenses continues to climb, and job creation is slowing. from february to september, the economy added the lowest number of jobs in seven years. wages are also falling this
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year, and since the trump administration took over 39 states and the district of columbia have seen workers' wages decline after adjusting for inflation. nearly four in 10 rural families don't have access to high-speed internet and the opportunities that it affords. we all know that many of the communities that we represent in both rural and urban areas have not fully recovered from the great recession. yet this budget only makes life harder for working families by cutting vital programs and critical services that invest directly in those communities. the republican budget ignores our your honor -- our current reality and makes it tougher for american families to afford a college education. as we saw through last week's executive actions, the trump administration remains singularly focused on taking
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away health care from 20 million americans and sabotaging the system for those left. this proposed budget would take us deeper down that destructive path. the republican 2019 budget -- 2018 budget cuts -- budget cut cuts more than $5 trillion in education, health care, transportation, medical research, and other critical investments. it slashes medicaid by $1 trillion -- that is a t -- $1 trillion, and medicare by more than $470 billion. when they are done, these budget-busting tax giveaways will leave other federal efforts with a gaping $660 billion hole, bringing our domestic federal investments as a share of the nation's gross domestic product to the lowest level since the
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hoover administration. if you're at home listening, that sounds unbelievable. washington republicans wouldn't really jeopardize our health care, our educational system, and bust the budget all at the same time, right? unfortunately all of that is true when you look at the details of this failing budget. again, this is all based on a brazen theory that led to the failed and harmful tax policies of the past. the real question we should be asking now is, how do we improve our communities? how do we grow our economy? p and how do we -- and how do we drive up wages for hardworking families? that's what i'm focused on when i look at the budget. republicans believe that step one should be to take funds out of medicare, out of education, out of infrastructure, and pull health care away from the working poor. step two of their plan is to
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give all of that money to wealthy political interests under the ruse that regular people some day will be better off because america's elite investing class will have done something spectacular with the money that we just sucked out of our communities. it is truly amazing that this idea continues to resurface because the promise of wild economic growth and trickle-down benefits has failed to materialize time and time again. what we have found is that working families, rural communities, and others who are robbed to finance this type of plan are the ones who suffer all to put money into other people's pockets. so who exactly loses in this budget? well, for starters, mr. president, senior citizen who will see medicare cut $470 billion, to be exact. let me say that again.
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this republican budget cuts medicare to the tune of nearly half a trillion dollars. children, working families, and people in need of opioid treatment who will be pounded by medicaid cuts of more than $1 trillion. the medicaid cuts will lead to millions losing their coverage, unravel the progress that we have made fighting the opioid epidemic, jeopardize mental health coverage and force many rural hospitals to close. the hit will be especially hard in rural areas where 12% of rural hospital revenues come from medicaid. in new mexico medicaid actually accounts for more than 20% of hospital revenue in rural areas. for seniors the medicare and medicaid cuts together will have devastating consequences. let's look at one example,
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alzheimer's disease. medicare and medicaid together pay for nearly 70% of care for those 65 and older with alzheimer's. these deep cuts will force families to make a terrible choice between working and caring for their family members. already 15% of caregivers to someone with alzheimer's have left their jobs or retired early in the past year due to their care giving responsibilities. cutting medicare, cutting medicaid when alzheimer's costs are getting higher and no cure is in sight will saddle individuals and their families with massive costs and hardship. but the devastation that this budget will create does not stop there. more than eight million students will see their pell grants cut by a third. that's right. republicans want to cut
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investments in education so that they can give special interest a tax break. these are americans who are striving for a college degree, who just want a fair shot at opportunity without being crushed by debt. pell grants are the primary form of financial aid for so many students giving them access to education that might otherwise be out of reach. this chart pretty much sums it up, what i've been saying are the priorities that are reflected in this budget, tax cuts, over investments and things like medicare, medicaid, education. the picture is pretty clear, they are taking direct investments away from our communities and instead giving that money away with a convoluted plan that leaves the wealthy better off. republicans have changed budget rules to allow them to add
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$1.5 trillion to the debt while doing it. for many years the conrad rule here in the senate specifically prohibited reconciliation legislation from increasing the deficit in the first ten years. it was what reconciliation bills were designed to do, reduce the deficit. then republicans repealed that rule in 2015, and through any -- threw any illusion of fiscal responsibility out the window. remember when republicans believed in fiscal responsibility and balanced budget? under president trump republicans barely give these values lip service. this year's budget goes even further than before to reject fiscal reason. it removes a senate requirement for the c.b.o., the congressional budget office, to issue a cost estimate a day ahead of votes on the senate floor, the so-called 28-hour
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rule. why? because they want to hide how fiscally irresponsible these votes are from their constituents and the american people. finally, the republican budget assumes far faster growth than the c.b.o. could possibly justify under even the rosiest assumptions. this backwards math says that their budget produces $ 1.24 billion in revenues, but it will reduce revenues by $2.4 trillion over the next seven years and another $2.10 trillion in the next ten years. the actual costs far exceed the republican estimates. and where do all the tax cuts go? most of them go to wealthy folks who are doing just fine without them. we don't need to be dolling out
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tax breaks to wealthy trust funders when families in santa rose and and other places are struggling to make ends meet, don't have high-speed internet and haven't gotten a raise in years in some cases. in this republican plan, the top .1% will receive a tax cut of more than $700,000 a year. it would take a typical household in my state nearly 15 years -- 15 years -- of work and earning just to match the giveaway being provided to a single wealthy investor under this budget. that's not just wrong, it's down right sickening. part of this massive benefit to the rich comes from the are creation of a special rate for pass-through income of 25%. now, this plan is designed to
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help large law firms and hedge funds, who, in my mind, don't need a special tax break to further enrich themselves, and millions of working families will actually face higher taxes as a result. under the republican plan, nearly eight million working households will see an average tax hike of $794. $800 may not seem like a lot if you're working on wall street, but i can tell you $800 is a lot for people working hard on relatively modest incomes in new mexico. as i said earlier, we have seen this movie before. we don't need another bad sequel. this republican plan delivers higher deficits and fewer community investments. tax cuts in early 1981 and early
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200's led to higher deficits. the national debt nearly tri -- tripled under president raying and nearly -- reagan and nearly doubled under president george w. bush. we have seen the dangers of tax cuts for the wealthy at the state level. in kansas republicans slashed individual rates by more than 20% and abolished taxes on pass-through income. sound familiar? since the tax cuts were enacted in 2012, the state's revenue plummeted, and kansas has buckled under an economy that has trailed the u.s. in job, wage, and economic growth. a recent study find that's for tax -- finds that for tax cuts to pay for themselves, the economy would have to grow $5 to $6 for every single dollar of cut. yet the nonpartisan join
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committee on taxation find that the tax cuts generate nowhere near that amount. according to them each tax cut would lead to four cents to at best $1.25 in new economic activity. the evidence is clear, large tax cuts for special interests and for the rich simply don't pay for themselves. as we've seen time and time again trickle-down only works in fake so-called think tank models, not in real life. but rather than rely on disproven theories, we could be investing in what we know actually works at increasing wages, at accelerating economic growth, expanding the earned income tax credit, for example, has proven to be effective at increasing the living standards of working families. it effectively raises their wages. let's strengthen and make fully
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refundable the child tax credit. instead of slashing infrastructure spending, as this budget does, we should be investing to prepare our nation to compete. investing in infrastructure is proven to create good-paying jobs, to stimulate our overall economy. president trump talked about infrastructure investment incessantly on the campaign trail. where is that rhetoric today? where is that commitment today? sending kids to high-quality pre-k has shown to improve both theirs, and for that matter, their parents' economic outcomes. we need to invest in clean energy because it's cheaper, because it's good for the economy, and because all of our future livelihoods depend on reducing climate change. not just in urban metro areas,
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but especially in rural communities. we need to invest in federal research and development that has led to the internet to g.p.s. to the laser and lifesaving medical breakthroughs. we must ensure that startups can access the capital that they need to launch and grow their businesses whether they are in rural new mexico or downtown detroit detroit, mr. president. and we need to close the digital divide so every person in america, regardless of zip code, has access to high-speed internet that connects people and communities to financial and educational opportunities. democrats have a plan to grow the economy, to increase wages, and to improve the lives of folks who work on main streets across this country. our plan connects people with the opportunities that will exist tomorrow. the republican plan is very different. it's written by the lobbyists on
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k street with much of the benefit flowing to the investment bankers on wall street. regrettably, republicans are pursuing the same partisan process with the budget and with tax reform that failed when they tried to repeal the affordable care act. the cost of republican chaos and backward thinking is growing by the day, and this budget will continue that process. we need bipartisan, pragmatic solutions that -- to the challenges that our country faces. and to all of my colleagues, we are asking simply to do what we know works. let's work across the aisle through regular order to get things done for our constituents. thank you, mr. president. i would yield back.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i'd like to thank my colleague, the senator from wyoming, the chairman of the budget committee, senator enzi, for allowing me as the vice chairman of the joint economic committee some time on the senate floor to discuss the budget. our budget process is important, and it's long been in a period of neglect. it needs reform. that's what i'm here to talk about today. there are so many areas that are affected by our budgeting process, or at least should be. in fact, it's difficult to conceive of any aspect of the federal government that couldn't be or shouldn't be addressed through the budgeting process. when you look at the budget process, it's important for us to focus to a degree or another on the 1974 budget act. now, this is an old law, 43
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years in statute has not exactly improved it. it hasn't matured into something better. in other words, rather than a piece of art that has appreciated in value over time, this is something more akin to the 8-track tape player that you might have purchased in 1974, to coincide with your fordpinto that would explode on impact. this really didn't improve in the 43 years since it was passed, especially not the way we followed it or better said, the way we have utterly failed to follow it. one of the best ways to describe the budgeting process prescribed by the budget act of 1974 is that it's nonbinding. it's less legislation than it is legislative fiction. it's aspirational in the sense that it aims for what could be and what should be except no one
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really actually aspires to it. here in congress we don't get to the aspiration basically ever. it's reminiscent almost of the immortal words of st. augustine when he was undergoing his transition to christianity when he said lord, grant my chastity but not yet. always wanting to restrain one's self later and not know. even though the need for restraint, the need for reform is present now, is calling out for reform right now. that's why it's important to remember that what comes next is important and next is now. we're discussing the budget this week and it's important that we focus on these issues right now. we do have a system that has to be kept carefully in balance, and that balance depends on congress keeping the national
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interest front and center. it depends on congress willing to retrain -- be willing to restrain itself and follow the dictates of our constitutional structure. we've failed on these scores. congress correctively, -- collectively, actively, almost defiantly avoids the very type of accountability built into our constitutional structure, the type of accountability called for by article 1 of the constitution, article 1, the very first clause of the first section of the first article of the constitution makes clear that if you're going to make policy within the federal government, if you're going to establish norms that will be enforceable as generally applicable laws within our federal government, you have to go through congress. all legislative powers here granted shall be invested in the congress of the united states which will consist of a senate and house of representatives. art 1, section 1, section 7 tells us that in order to make a law in our federal system, you
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first have to pass something through the house of representatives and the senate, and then you have to submit it to the white house. you cannot make law without going through that process. and that process is also worked in for a budgeting process. you see, the way that the budget act of 1974 is supposed to work, the way our budget process is supposed to operate is that we'll pass a series of laws appropriating money in various aspects of the federal government. we have a budget that gets passed first, which is an aspirational statement not submitted to the president. it is a resolution passed jointly by both houses of congress that sets budgeting priorities. and then following from those priorities, there's supposed to be 13 separate appropriations bills that spend money, that
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allocate the scarce resources of the federal government understanding that they are fine night -- fine night to -- finite to each of the areas of government spending. there will be one bill that funds national defense. another that will fund our justice department, our federal courts system. another bill that will fund, for example, our national parks and so on and so forth. when you follow that formula, you avoid the kind of circumstance in which we push all spending decisions into one legislative package setting up a potential for disaster. a common analogy that i sometimes use to describe this, imagine if you lived in an outlying area, in an area where there was only one grocery store for a hundred, maybe 200 miles around. upon moving there, suppose on your way home from work you received a phone call from your significant other telling you to stop by the store. don't come home without bread, milk, and eggs.
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you don't need anything but bread, milk, eggs. you go to the grocery store and get out the shopping cart and put in your milk, eggs, your bread. the cashier says to you, excuse me, there's a problem. you can't buy just bread, milk, and eggs. this is a special kind of store where you can't buy bread, milk, and ecs unless you buy a bucket of nails and a half ton of iron ore and a barry manilo album and a book about poetry. this is the kind of store where you have to buy one of every item in order to buy anything else. that's kind of like what it's all about every time we pass a spending bill lately because even though the budget act of 1974 contemplates 12 or 13 separate appropriations bills, each addressing one discrete aspect of the federal government's spending, we end up more often than not, in fact we end up basically every single time for the last six and a half
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years i've been serving here and even longer than that, passing either a continuing resolution, which basically is a reset button saying we will continue to spend next year at the same rate we've been spending this year subject to these minor exceptions. or alternatively we might pass an omnibus spending bill, which can be a thousand, maybe 2,000 pages long, sometimes longer. and identify all the areas in which we'll be spending but put into one unified bill. the problem with these bills the way we've tended to do continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills is that we tend to consider and pass them under a compacted time agreement in the final hours or minutes before a cliff. and by cliff here, i mean an arbitrary deadline after which the spending measure already in
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place will expire. so if there's a spending bill that expires on separate 30 of a particular year, it's not uncommon for us to address a spending bill on september 30, sometimes late in the day on september 30 or in the days leading up to it. it's not uncommon for members of congress to be told at that moment you've got two choices here. you can either pass this as is and have everything funded more or less as it has been or you can shut down the government because nobody really wants to cause the government to shut down. certainly no one wants to be accused of shutting down the government. most members tend to vote for it and then the american people continue to get what they've been getting. they continue to operate a federal government that spends about $4 trillion a year with little or no control, even by the people's own elected representatives here in congress whose job it is to do these things over their own government. this is wrong. we shouldn't be governing this
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way. and yet there's a touch of irony in this, mr. president, in that we govern this way, i think, at least in part, because of a fear of public outcry against the process or criticism about the process in which we might engage and yet as we undertake this process which undercuts that process all together and side steps it, as we've avoided that studiously in order to avoid criticism, we've seen congress' approval rating plummet. in fact, if you look at most opinion polls these days, it puts our approval rating as an institution right around 10%. last time i checked, mr. president, that makes us less popular than fidel castro in the united states of america. it makes us only slightly more popular than the influenza virus which is rapidly gaining on us. if what we're wanting to do is avoid criticism, then the last thing we ought to do is to continue to do what we've been doing, which is to consolidate all spending decisions into one
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legislative package to be addressed at the end of the fiscal year telling members they have to either vote for it or be blamed for a government shutdown. that's wropg. that shuts out -- wrong. that shuts out the american people and it maybes their government unaccountable to them. in the process, we avoid reforming a lot of programs that need reform be. among other things we avoid reforming entitlement spending. it's important when we think about entitlement spending and how it needs to be reformed. remember the immortal words of john f. kennedy who said to govern is to choose. but today to budget is not to choose or to choose in advance not to choose, to avoid choosing all together. we're $20 trillion in debt and we choose to ignore that. $20 trillion is an enormous amount of money as is the interest we pay on that sum every single year which is about $250 billion a year. an enormous sum of money in and of itself.
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but that isn't the scary part. the scary part, mr. president, is that $250 billion which is what we spend every year on interest on our national debt, it's roughly the same interest payment we had about 20 years ago. i believe our national debt was what? one-sixth or one-seven lt of its current size. the only reason it's that low is our treasury yield rate, the interest rate at which the u.s. government pays its creditors is at an all-time historical lows, laws of mathematics are such that what goes down must inevitably come back up. as soon as it does come back, even if it only comes back to its historical average and doesn't rebound above that average, in a short period of time, within a few years after that we'll find ourselves going from about $250 billion in interest on debt to about a trillion a year in interest on debt leaving ourselves with the uncomfortable, darn near impossible prospect of having to cover a $750 billion shortfall, this on top of our existing,
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sprawling national deficit without any clear means of doing so. congress in many cases fears reform, but reform remains necessary to make programs structurally reliable and fiscally sustainable. in other words, we're fearing the wrong thing. a lot of people in my home state of utah, mr. president, fear snakes and understandably. we have rattle snakes in parts of utah. rattle snakes are freaky. they're scary. they make a scary sound. they can do a lot of damage if they bite you. you don't want to mess with a rattle snake. sometimes she fear the wrong thing, at least in the sense in addition to having a lot of rattle snakes, we also have a lot of deer. they should actually fear deer more than rattle snakes. more people die in the united states every year as a result of deer causing automotive accidents than they do from snake bites all together. sometimes we fear the wrong thing. we fear making reform but reform isn't really what we should fear. we should fear the consequences
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of failure to do that. in some ways, the central unifying problem isn't just about the debt or the dysfunction but the distrust. congress has squandered the trust of the american people. and we as an institution have a responsibility to work hard to win back that trust. the only way to win back that trust is through real reform, and we have to put the national interest ahead of our own interest, our own political interest and the special interests that are constantly moving here in washington, d.c. that work can begin with this very budget. it should begin with this budget. budgets provide us with an opportunity to discuss our priorities, those priorities always need to be all about reform. now this budget is far from perfect, but not withstanding the fact that it's not perfect, it's a vehicle to begin the real process of reform.
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nowhere is this more important than with tax reform, and this was set in motion those events that can culminate in real, genuine and much-needed tax reform. there are a couple of odd quirks within our federal tax code. first of all, it's sheer length and complexity is a problem. arthur brooks from the american enterprise institute said famously that complexity is itself a subsidy, a subsidy that benefits the well connected, wealthy, the well-educated, specialists who handle complexity and profit from it. 100 years ago our tax code was only a few hundred pages long. today our tax code, depending on what you account can fairly be described as close to a few thousand pages than a few hundred. among the many problems you find in the tax code is the marriage tax penalty which many americans are familiar with whereby a
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hardworking american couple might pay higher taxes because and only because of the fact that they happen to be married. this is wrong and it needs to be fixed. there is a related point, a related flaw that's much less well known than the marriage tax penalty, and that's the parent tax penalty. let me explain what that is. imagine two couples. two couples, couple a and couple b. imagine that couple a and couple b are identical in every respect but one. in other words, they both have the same income. they both have the same pattern of charitable contributions, mortgage interest, state and local taxes and so forth. everything else that affects their taxes is the same except one. couple a has three children. couple b chooses to remain childless. because of the way our tax code interacts and intersects with
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our senior entitlement programs, namely, social security and medicare, we end up penalizing parents, creating this parent tax penalty. let me explain a little bit about that. let's call couple a, the couple with three children, jack and julie. jack and julie, with their three children, will, according to very modest assessments made by the u.s. department of agriculture, will incur about $700,000 as they raise their children. these are the costs of raising children. now i believe it's a lowball figure up there. there are a number of things it doesn't include, but it is a, an estimate produced by the u.s. department of agriculture saying that jack and julie, our hypothetical couple a, will spend about $700,000 raising their three children to maturity. that's a lot of money and doesn't take into account all
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the noneconomic costs associated with parenting or the myriad benefits that go along with that. but $700,000, that's the cost that they will put into raising those three children. that cost doesn't just benefit jack and julie. it doesn't just benefit their three children. no, the way our system works, the way social security and medicare work, it also goes to stabilize, to shore up entitlement benefits for tomorrow's retirees, today's workers as well. because you see, social security and medicare operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. today's retirees' benefits are paid by today's workers. today's workers will be tomorrow's retirees. today's children will be tomorrow's workers, and paying the retirement benefits of today's workers, tomorrow's retirees. let's look at couple a, back to jack and julie.
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jack and julie operate solely with julie's income. jack is a stay-at-home father. julie meanwhile has a good job, a job that pays $75,000 a year. and, you know, as you look at this chart, it shows how julie's pay stub, she receives twice a month, might look. i would imagine many americans look at this the same way i do. people approach their pay stub with a degree of trepidation. it's almost easier not to look at it when you see all the things that the government does to your paycheck each time it comes through. jack and julie look at julie's pay stub, when it comes out twice a month, and they see a few things, including the fact that in addition to the $205 that's withheld from her federal income tax twice a month, she also sees $41.84 withheld for
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medicare. $178 withheld for social security, $144 withheld for state income tax. and so when you look at julie's pay stub, you see that what julie is paying into social security and to medicare is roughly the same as what you'll see from couple b that chooses to remain childless. couple b has every right not to have children. we don't want to penalize anybody regarding their decision on whether or not to have children. but the point here is that the investment that jack and julie are making into the social security system comes twice. first as they pay their taxes, including their social security and medicare taxes. and with the social security taxes, by the way, that's also going to play a role in determining the social security benefits for which jack and julie will one day be eligible
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when they retire. and yet, the tax code doesn't adequately take into account the $700,000 that they're investing into their own children and that those children will make it possible for couple b also to receive their social security and medicare benefits when they retire. that, mr. president, is why we need to fix the parent tax penalty. the parent tax penalty consists of this unique interaction between our tax system and our senior entitlement programs. and doesn't take into account the intense investment in financial terms that america's moms and dads make in their children. by increasing the child tax credit, we could offset this penalty. now one of the proposals out there would involve raising it to, say, $2,000 per child. i think that would be great. i could even go higher than
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that. but $2,000 would not cover the whole problem, wouldn't undue the whole penalty but would go a long way towards offsetting it. i would go for that. that would be a really good development. there are people just like jack and julie jones all over this country who would benefit from that, and the american people as a whole would benefit from it. social security and medicare themselves would be more stable and made more sustainable by this change. the next step we need to make with tax reform involves making the tax code more proworker. a lot of people criticize the tax code for the fact that it has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world at 35%. i believe that the best reform we could achieve would be substantial. there are a lot of people who are talking about reducing the corporate tax rate to maybe 15%
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or 20%. i hope we can get to something like that, and that would be a great first step. what i would really like to see is to bring that down not to 25% or 20% or 15%. i'd love to see that brought down to zero. let me explain why i believe that. a corporation consists of, and is animated by two things: capital and labor. investors and workers. investors and workers join together and form partnerships to make profits. both of them pay a share of the corporate tax. in the united states, forces of globalizeization have benefited from this -- globalization have benefited from this arrangement, the arrangement between workers and investors. the forces of globalization have benefited the investor class
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more than workers. in this new global economic environment, we need to think about how to increase the returns to workers. globalization has helped the investors. the policy really needs to go out of its way now to help the workers. one way to do that would be to eliminate the corporate tax altogether. and then tax investment income the same way we do regular income. that is shift the worker share of business taxes to business owners. this would immediately do two things. it would give a raise to american workers who really need that. and it would turn the u.s. into an irresistible magnet for foreign investment in the united states of america. in one stroke, mr. president, the most profitable, favorable tax strategy in the global economy would be creating american jobs. the current code gives preferential treatment to u.s. investors sending their money
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overseas. while this is their right to do, this isn't something we should be incentivizing. it's nothing we should be pushing them into, which is exactly what the status quo does. reform would give preferential treatment to international investors coming here, which is, after all, what we want. let's level the national playing field between the working class and the investor class. while tilting the global playing field toward the united states rather than pushing it outward, away from our great country. would these tax reforms, tax reforms that could be set in motion through this budget, or at least set in motion indirectly, if not directly. the tax code would finally start working again for american families, finally start benefiting hardworking american mothers and fathers. another issue that we struggle
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with significantly in the federal government involves federal regulations. this too is something that we can start to address through the budgeting process. our federal regulatory system is economically damaging. this is something that strangles small business. it inherently, by its very nature it inures disproportionately to the benefit of large established incumbent businesses, those who can afford an army of lawyers and accountants and lobbyists and compliance specialists, benefit from a system of heavy federal regulation, which is often made heavier still at the urging of the largest, wealthiest, most established cbs because federal regulations provide a national restriction on entry, natural barrier that
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disincentivizes, in some ways disables would-be competitors from joining and entering into the marketplace. one thing we know about competition is that it brings down costs and it raises quality. and that's a good thing. federal regulations also create a sort of constitutional distrust. they themselves represent a harsh deviation from the natural constitutional order. i mentioned a few minutes ago the provisions of article 1. article 1, section 1 and article 1, section 7, both of which require that federal laws be passed by congress. federal regulations get around that sometimes because congress chooses voluntarily to delegate to someone else the task that we, by operation of the constitution, are supposed to perform and not to delegate to someone else.
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this administrative action makes things easier on occasion for congress, but that's a bug they ought to feature. and the constitution never was intended to make life easier for members of congress. let me explain how this happens and then how it shows up here. it happens sometimes with good intentions. congress wants to approach a particular issue, solve a particular problem without necessarily having to go into the difficult, painstaking long drawn out process that inevitably is brought into question any time you're trying to solve a problem through law-making. in other words, congress will identify a problem and say, pass a law that says, for instance, we shall have good law in area x, and we hereby delegate to agency y the power to make and enforce rules carrying the force of generally applicable federal law that will
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carry out the objectives we've outlined in our legislation. in other words, let's get to something more approximating, a real example. congress, for instance, passes a law that says we shall have clean air. and we hereby dpel gate to the e.p.a. the -- delegate to the e.p.a. the power to decide what clean air is, what pollution is, what acceptable limits on pollution might be, what penalties will befall polluters. and then those same regulators, those same people at that same agency who made all those rules defining pollution, defining acceptable limits for pollution, prescribing penalties, they're the same people who also enforce them. you have the lawmakers who are also the law enforcers, and none of them are subject to an election. now, i don't mean to disparage the character or the capabilities of any of the fine
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people who work in the e.p.a. or any of our other federal bureaucracies. for the most part, these are well-intentioned, hardworking, well-educated, and highly specialized public figures or government employees, we might say, but there is a difference. people here in congress are not magically empowered with any gift for coming up with good legislation. they -- any more than any other american is. but there is a difference. we are elected. we are subject to the people at regular intervals. you can fire your u.s. senator every six years. you can fire your representative every two years. you cannot fire a government bureaucrat. as ronald reagan said, the closest thing we see to eternal life on this earth is a new government program. the closest thing you can find to a lifelong career is in government, in many government bureaucracies.
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what this has produced is a profound proliferation of federal law. we have been able to make more things federal, and we have been able to make more federal laws as a result of the fact that congress now delegates away far more of its legislative power than it actually exercises. let me explain what i mean. i keep in my office two sets of documents. i welcome any of you to come by it. in my office, we serve jell-o every wednesday at 3:30, for reasons i don't entirely understand. utah consumes more jell-o than any other state in the union on a per capita basis. and the utah legislature has actually designated jell-o as utah's official state snack. i will be clear, these are not jell-o shots. they are not tainted with alcohol or anything like that. we serve jell-o every wednesday at 3:30. you're all invited to join us any time you would like. if the senate is in session and it's wednesday at 3:30, it's time for jell-o. if you come by my office for jell-o wednesday, you will see
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two stacks of documents i have represented in this graph. one stack of documents is a few inches tall. it's about 3,000 pages long, and it consists of the laws passed by congress last year. the other stack is 13-feet tall. it's about 96,000 pages long, and it consists of last year's federal register. now, for those of you who are fortunate enough not to know what the federal register is -- and i really do envy you -- it's the annual index, the compilation of federal regulations versus their release for public notice and comment and then later as they are finalized. but these are laws. these are not just rules exclusively deciding what time the lights will go on and off at the commerce department or what times the gates will be staffed at this or that embassy. many of these are regulations that impose affirmative
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obligations on the american people, sometimes with criminal penalties, often with substantial civil penalties attached to them. and yet, they are not passed by anyone who is elected. in many cases, they are not even written by people who are accountable to anyone who is in turn elected. this is a problem. during 2016, congress enacted 214 laws, whereas the agencies issued 3,853 rules. that's 18 rules that were put in place by federal agencies for every one law that was enacted by congress. this is not without consequences. this is not just an abstract constitutional violation. this costs the american people a lot of money. it costs them money in a way that is kind of invisible. you know, you have a tax code, you have your pay stub, and i
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showed you that chart earlier from july's pay stub showing how much the government takes out of each paycheck. that's visible. that's tangible. that's something she can see each week. there is another bite that gets taken out of each and every one of her paychecks that's invisible, and that bite is taken out by these federal regulations. meaning everything that jack and julie, everything that every one of you, everything that every american purchases, every good or every service is made more expensive by these federal regulations. in fact, it's fair to say, really, that the costs of compliance with these federal regulations are passed on disproportionately to america's poor and middle class who pay for those regulations through higher prices on goods and services, diminished wages, unemployment and underemployment, and it's not insignificant. 20 years ago when i first started studying this problem, i was shocked to learn that this back-door, invisible, highly
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regressive form of tax -- that is, the cost of compliance with federal regulations -- stood at $300 billion a year. that was astounding to me, stunning. today that number stands at about $2 trillion a year. in 20 years, we have seen the cost of complying with federal regulations multiply nearly sevenfold. that is troubling. if the cost of complying with u.s. federal regulations were a country, if it were the g.d.p., the $2 trillion in compliance costs, that is roughly the same as the gross domestic product of india and italy. the cost of complying with federal regulations is slightly less than the g.d.p. of india and slightly more than the g.d.p. of italy. that's sad. that's stunning. that's a constitutional problem, and it's a public policy
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problem. the 2016 federal register contains 95,894 pages, the highest level in its history, and 19% higher than the previous year of 2015, which contained 80,260 pages. in the absence of trust, we need an abundance of transparency, and that's what constitutional law making is all about. we need to pass reforms which would require congressional assent before major rules are put into place, that would require congress to affirmatively enact a regulation into law before an economically significant regulation could take effect. there are some other areas where we need transparency in higher education and health care. these things appear to have little in common at the outset,
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and yet in many ways, they have a lot of common in that they are two areas where there has been a lot of federal involvement where there probably shouldn't be and where that federal involvement has made things more opaque and less transparent and resulted in higher costs. in higher education, i highlighted the need in the last congress for reforms for my introduction to the higher education reform opportunity act, which would have opened up the accreditation process. currently the higher education system in america has been commandeered by the iron triangle, consisting of the u.s. department of education, federally accredited -- accreditation bodies, and institutions of higher education in this country. unless you're part of that iron triangle, you can't really break into the federal -- to the higher education market because you can't get federal higher education assistance. as a result, things like apprenticeships, distance learning, massive open online
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coors courses -- courses suffer. they get left out. the upshot is if we reform this area, we will have more opportunities to get postsecondary skills and training, we would lower the cost of higher education, we would save money for both borrowers and tears alike, -- taxpayers alike, and we would have more people able to pursue their chosen volkswagen. with health care, as in higher education, federal influence is driving up prices while outcomes are flatlined. in 2009, congress doubled down on what wasn't working when they passed obamacare. the results were instability, lost coverage, new plans, and higher premiums and higher deductibles at the same time. meanwhile, you had a whole lot of concentration of market power in a few companies. the top ten health insurance companies in 2008, the year president obama was elected president, had combined profits of about $8 billion a year. last year, that number
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skyrocketed to $15 billion a year. the difference was obamacare. obamacare made it easier for those companies to see their profits skyrocket, but they did so on the backs of america's poor and middle class. and with obamacare, we also had the unsustainable expansion of medicaid, a failed program that we should be trying to rescue people from, not trap them in. we need to repeal and replace obamacare. as we look toward reform, a guiding principle should always be restoring the constitutional principle of federalism, or some might call it localism. or the principle of subsidiary subsidiary -- subsidiarity, the idea that you should govern as locally as possible. there is a reason for this -- the constitution requires it. but it's also the case that we all benefit when we follow that
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constitutional system. it allows more americans to get more of the kind of government they want and less of the kind of government they don't want. bad things happen when we ignore federalism, as we have, mr. president, over the last 80 years, and increasingly so over the last decade. here are some examples of that. one involves transportation, our interstate highway system. it was created by the federal government in the 1950's under the leadership of president eisenhower. he acknowledged that for national security and interstate commerce reasons, it would be a good idea to have an interstate highway system, so we proposed and congress passed into law a gallon tax that would fund the establishment, the creation of an interstate highway system. the idea was always to hand that interstate highway system back over to the states after the project was completed, which it has been now since the 1980's. and yet we're still collecting federal gallon tax.
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18.4 cents per gallon, to be precise. and yet, that 18.4 cents per gallon still doesn't ever seem to be sufficient. even though the interstate highway system has been completed since the 1980's, and even though, stunningly, mr. president, you could maintain the existing interstate highway system for about four cents per gallon. so where's the rest of it going? well, it's going to purely local projects -- surface roads, bike paths, all sorts of other things that many of which might well be worthy, but aren't necessarily federal in nature. another example involves public land. a lot of people were surprised to learn this, especially people from the east, but the federal government owns and controls about 30% of the land in the united states. a lot of people in the east aren't aware of this because in every state east of colorado, the federal government owns less than 15% of the land. in no state west of colorado does the federal government own
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less than 15%, and in many states like my own, that number is much larger. in fact, in my state, the state of utah, the federal government owns 67% of the land. now, let's set aside the question for a minute why the federal government needs to own that much land at all, why it needs to own 30% of the land mass in the united states. if it's going to own that much, why does it disproportionately own so much land in states like mine, especially when that harms people in states like mine? you see, in utah, this map shows federal land. anyplace you see white, that's nonfederal land. if you see any of these colors represented here, that's one type of federal landownership or another. whether you see -- where you see color on this chart, that's where the federal land -- the land is owned and controlled by the federal government, and the local taxing authorities can't tax it. as a result, people have to go to the federal government for a mother may i in order to even
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cross the property or utilize the property for some legitimate business or personal need, and the local taxing authorities can't tax it. this harms westerners disproportionately, and it's -- it's wrong. we need reform in this area. we also need to get the federal government out of the business of thinking that it needs to own this much land and into the business of thinking if it is going to own that much, then it needs to allow taxing authorities to collect at least a rough equivalent of property tax. also in the area of primary and secondary education, because public education is so important, the federal government needs to stay out of the k-12 education arena. in other words, what's caught in the k-12 classroom needs to be a decision made by teachers in
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consultation with parents, principles, local school officials, and in some cases state officials. not from washington, d.c. that is not an appropriate decision to make from washington, d.c., unless you're talking about educational experiences perhaps in the district of columbia or in a u.s. territory or on a military base or something like that. the federal government should have no role in k-12 public education. that is not our job. we have to remember the text of the tenth amendment echoing the structure of the original constitution. powers not granted to congress and not prohibited to the states are reserved to the states respectively or to the people. that has to mean something. in order for it to mean something, there has to be some limit to what powers are in fact granted to the federal government. but over the last 80 years, mr. president, we've gradually drifted away from thissed why. we've concluded that every problem in society is a government problem and that
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every government problem is a federal problem. that is wrong. that is harm to the american people, and we need to restore federalism, localism, subsidiary. this will free the people of the tyranny they feel as a result of a lost election. at any given moment in america, there are people who are disappointed about the last election, especially so with house election, senate elections and the occupant of the white house at any given moment. at any given moment the people who feel like they're not well represented in washington, either at the u.s. capitol or at the white house, or both, can be counted in the tens if not hundreds of millions. and yet, we enter into tyranny if we return a lot of that power. in other words, let's say someone living in connecticut may not be on the band wagon of make america great again. if they don't want to make america great again they can
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want to make connecticut great again. federalism allows more people to get more of the kind of government they want and less of the kind of government they don't want. it allows more people to have more of a say because local governments while not perfect are more responsive to their local constituencies. it better protects both minorities and majorities. it lowers the temperature of our national politics. one of the reasons why national politics have become so contentious is because everything has been centered in washington,d.c., and there is no reason why it has to be that way. in fact, the constitution says it should never be that way. finally, mr. president, with regard to federalism, there are a few things that only the federal government can do. those things include national defense, establishing a uniform system of weights and measures, coming up with a uniform system of laws governing immigration and naturalization, uniform system of laws governing interstate or foreign trade or commerce.
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those things that can be done only by congress must be done well. when we're so busy doing the things that we're not supposed to do, we fail adequately to do those things that only we can do. that is yet another reason to restore federalism. and then whatever is left over, whatever remains, whatever we can't bring back needs to be fixed. it needs to be made to work. whatever we don't return back to the states can be made more effective and more efficient, and we should do that. the 1974 budget act as i explained at the outset of my address today, mr. president, is outdated. we've got to reform it. the congressional budget office, the joint committee on taxation uses formulas that are opaque, that are unknown, that are effectively a black box. this is wrong. we've got to get rid of those, one of the reasons why i introduced the c.b.o. show your work act, so they can't just
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tell us any more. you can't know why we reached the conclusions that we reached, conclusions that have stunning implications for law and public policy in america. from budget to taxing to spending, policy and policymaking, the constant theme is inertia. one could argue that the consistent theme is nostalgia. we're stuck in that era of the ford pinto and the eight-track cassette player. americans are being held back not only by outdated policies but by the process that is out of date too. we met the challenges of the 20th century with policies that met the moment. but we have to be constantly updating, constantly overseeing and tweaking and improving. government may well move at the pace of a turtle, but it can move nonetheless, and move it must. because the only way to get to next is to focus on now.
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in our increasingly personalized, customizing economy, government focus with centralization is making these things worse, not better. we need to govern locally and not nationally in every single instance. we need to empower individuals and local communities. in washington we have to embrace accountability, especially that kind of accountability prescribed by the constitution. we can do better. but we have to first recognize the need to do so. the budget, mr. president, is indicative of all the problems we face in washington, and it's also indicative of congress' authority and its ability to create solutions. we can do this. we can, we must, and together we will. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: mr. president, i also rise to speak about the budget, and i find many points of agreement with my colleague
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from utah. so just to sort of jump into it, normally we would be having this budget discussion in the fall. the budget control act of 1974 suggests that the president would give us a budget in february, that we would pass a budget before april, that budget would then set top-line numbers that would be given to the committees who would then write their authorizing bills to those budgetary numbers. and then it would be handed over and the appropriators would ultimately fashion appropriations bills that were responsive to the budget and to the authorizing bills. we're into a new fiscal year, and the authorizing committees have already done their jobs. i'm on the armed services committee, probably the biggest piece of legislation we do every year is the ndaa. we've already written it without having a budget. we didn't have a budget top-line number this year. and we've gone ahead and written the bill, and the appropriators
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are already working. and so i think what everybody on this floor understands, this really isn't a budget debate. it is an effort to set up a set of instructions around which to do tax reform via budgetary reconciliation. in my view, this budgetary document fails as a budget, and it also fails as a good-faith beginning to a tax reform discussion. and i want to talk about each of these, why this document fails as a budget. i voted against it in committee and i'm going to vote against it on the floor. and why it fails as a, an effort to initiate the necessary process of reforming the tax code for the first time since 1986. as a budget. if you look at this document, the budget that's on the floor, there's a whole set of priorities that are either wrong or completely unrealistic. as an example, the budget proposes $5 trillion in spending
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cuts, $470 billion-plus to medicare and over a $1 trillion cut to medicaid that would not only be a bad idea, it is completely unrealistic and unlikely to occur. these cuts are not going to happen, and so it is just artificial. second, the budget does not address the primary budgetary reality, a dangerous reality we're living under, sequestration and budget caps, and it continues to gut domestic discretionary programs to the tune of $600 billion over the decade. finally, just a particular item that i think is very important, the budget proposes a fast-track 50-vote process to open up drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. that's really not a budgetary matter. it's shoehorned into the budget because we'd like to assume we're going to get a big chunk of revenue by drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. but this is a fundamental matter
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of environmental policy that shouldn't be squirreled away in a tiny little detail on a big budget. i owe -- oppose drilling there. this was last on the senate floor in the mid2000's. at that point we were dealing with high oil price,, overreliance on middle east oil. the energy situation is completely changed. we're moving to low and no carbon oil. oil prices are significantly lower. we're not relying on middle eastern oil. and i will argue that the cost-benefit calculation now makes drilling in the national wildlife refuge a particularly poor idea. i went to the refuge two summers ago and saw the environmental damage that would be caused by drilling there, and i opposed it. so the budget from the unrealistic expense cuts to medicaid and medicare that would really hurt people, to other cuts is unrealistic. and the fact that it was being done after the authorizers and
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appropriators are generally done with their work doesn't indicate it is serious. tax reform done through the reconciliation process is a bad idea for at least two reasons. first -- first it begins completely partisan. if you're going to do a tax reform for the first time since 1986, you ought to try to get the best ideas of both parties. but that's not what's done with reconciliation. when you start off and say you're going to do it through reconciliation you're saying we the majority have 52 votes. all we need is 50 plus a tie breaker. we're not going to listen to democrats. we're not going to meaningfully entertain the ideas you have. we're going to do it on our own. and i would venture to say the same outcome as was achieved with the effort to repeal the affordable care act via reconciliation is going to be the end result here. trying to do something this important all on your own without meaningfully including the public and the minority almost destines it for failure.
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the second reason that it's a bad idea to do tax reform via reconciliation is this: matters in reconciliation are temporary, not permanent. i went to my chamber of commerce in northern virginia with senator warner a couple weeks back and we talked about tax reform. we talked about the fact that it was needed to grow the economy. it hadn't been done for a long time. but what my business leaders want to do is they want to do a tax reform that is permanent. they don't want to do a tax reform bill where the provisions expire and because of the rules of reconciliation, that's what happens. so to do tax reform via reconciliation is a mistake. but let's go further and look at the tax reform ideas this chaive discussed by -- that have been discussed by the administration and others that will we will likely embark upon if this budget passes. the budget sets up a mechanism for a partisan and temporary tax cuts that would increase the deficit. increase the deficit by $1.5
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trillion. the first page of the g.o.p.'s own budget talks about the challenges of deficits. i quote, continual overspending and its resulting deficits will expand the federal debt during the next ten years debt held by the public is slated to rise from 77% of g.d.p., $15 trillion to 91% of g.d.p., $26 trillion. why would we propose to increase the debt by $1.5 trillion in a partisan temporary tax reconciliation bill? if folks, especially on the g.o.p., are so focused on the deficit and debt, and i think we should be, why are we including a mechanism in this instruction to raise the debt by $1.5 trillion? i think again the answer is this is not a serious proposal and it's only the vehicle for partisan and temporary tax cuts. the initial analysis i've seen of this tax proposal suggests a couple of things. first, the tax benefits would overwhelmingly be for folks at
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the top, the wealthiest. the folks who least need a break in taxes. to give you an example, the republican proposal calls for the elimination of the estate tax. that would cost $270 billion over ten years. the estate tax has high thresholds already. it affects extremely limited number of virginians and limited number of folks in virtually every state. giving up $270 billion to get rid of the estate tax, that is enough to provide every child from a low- or moderate-income family with access to free preschool, about seven million kids, and you would still have enough money left over to take every student off head start waiting list. which would you rather do cut the estate tax or provide free preschool to every low and moderate income kid in this
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country and take every student on head start off the waiting list. second, the proposal has some gimmicks and special quirks that i think need to be brought to attention and i hope you will bring it to attention on the floor. here's an example. the budget that's before us repeals a rule that is currently in place that requires the c.b.o. to issue scores on legislation coming out of reconciliation at least 28 hours in advance of a vote. 28 hours isn't that long. but at least it's enough time for a senator and staff to read a bill, understand the consequences of the bill before voting. this republican budget repeals the transparency rule that forces the c.b.o. to issue a score. i have an amendment to not repeal the rule but to restore it and make it stronger. there should be a c.b.o. score to let every senator, and especially the public know what we are voting on with respect to these matters.
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so i'll just conclude, mr. president, and say this,ing tax reform is important. let's not, you know, sugar coat this. we're not really debating a budget on the floor because if we had really debated a budget, we would have done that last spring. this is all about setting the stage for tax reform. we haven't done it in a long time. it's important. we should support a tax reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer, that focuses on middle-class working families and makes it easier to start businesses and grow them. we shouldn't be doing tax reform that's partisan, that's temporary, that increases the deficit, and that produces the overwhelming benefit of a tax reform package to those at the top of the income scale who don't need it. it will be my hope that we'll have that debate in earnest on the floor of the senate. i would love to join my colleagues in a good-faith effort to reform the tax code. reconciliation in this particular proposal is not the way to do that. with that, mr. president, i
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yield the floor. i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: before i read from my remarks, i'd like to make a point that i get the impression from what some members of the other political party but more often from editorials and from think tanks leaving and --
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believing and wanting the public to believe that there is actually a tax bill produced by the tax-writing committees of the congress and something that is very definitive in what it does to tax policy, and i want to make clear that there is no such document, that all we have so far is what's called a framework agreed to by the leaders of the two tax-writing committees and the treasury department and the leaders of the house and the senate, and you cannot draw conclusions about who is going to pay what taxes just from the framework. the other thing i would like to make clear is -- and i'll get into real detail on this -- is
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the fact that there are a lot of people drawing conclusions about who's going to get tax benefits and who's going to be hurt as a result of all this information that's out there that nobody can draw conclusions because there isn't any bill before the congress at this point. there will be in a matter of weeks. the budget that we're debating this week paves the way for fundamental tax reform. for more than a decade, both sides of the aisle have talked about the need for tax reform that provides tax simplification, tax fairness, and gives us the ability to increase our economic
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competitiveness so that we can grow the economy. under president george w. bush, we had picture bipartisan tax reform panel. under president obama, we had the bipartisan simpson-bowles commission. we've had individual members also authoring tax plans, including a bipartisan bill authored by finance committee ranking member wyden, the senator from oregon, and the former senator coats then representing the state of indiana. in addition to these high-profile plans that have been out there over the years, the senate finance committee has also had countless tax reform hearings over this extended period. the committee has also held a
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series of bipartisan option papers, discussions under then-chairman baucus. additionally under chairman hatch, we had bipartisan tax reform groups. all of this work over the years has laid the foundation and informed the unified framework released by the so-called big six. that's the framework i previously referred to. the influence of these prior discussions and proposals on the big six framework is evident. in other words, all that work that has gone on over the years in different environs is bearing fruit now and getting a consensus of what we ought to do in a broadway of moving forward
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on tax simplification, tax reform and tax cuts. the framework is nothing but a framework, and it will be filled in with details by the tax-writing committee. it's at that point that any think tank, any member of the other political party, any member of our political party, any college professors, any economists anyplace can make some sound judgments, the extent to which certain people benefit or don't benefit from the legislation before us. but i think they ought to take into consideration you've got to think about the country as a whole that hasn't grown by more than 1.6% each of the eight years of the previous administration, and if you're going to have jobs created, you've got to grow at about
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twice that amount at 3% or more, and that's some of the thinking behind this budget that's before the senate right now and the thinking behind the tax reform measures that will follow our adoption of the budget. now, i will be repeating myself to some extent here, but for illustration, i have a chart here comparing the big six framework, the wyden-coats bill that i have already referred to, and the simpson-bowles plan that i have already referred to, and you can see here the main point of putting these three plans together is to show similarity. all proposals would consolidate the current tax brackets down to three. that's one point the chart makes. two plans provide for a top rate
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of 35%, while one provides for a top rate of 28%. yet, the big six framework, the framework that will evolve into a piece of legislation called tax simplification, tax reform and tax cuts is being criticize ed for having -- criticized for having a 35% top rate as somehow a giveaway to the wealthy. whereas, you can see from this chart that plans that have been bipartisan in the past have had the 35% top rate or less, and of course the 35% tax rate that's set as a giveaway to the wealthy is not even the one that proposes a 28% yet lower rate.
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this is reserved, the 28% is reserved for the simpson-bowles plan, and that simpson-bowles group was put together by none other than a democratic president. so let me ask were democratic members of the simpson-bowles commission who voted for that plan voting to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy? do our democratic colleagues expect us to believe that a 35% top rate is a sensible bipartisan compromise when offered by democrats, but a giveaway to the rich once this is associated with this
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administration or with republican members of the congress? well, another thing that is the same in all three plans would repeal the alternative minimum tax. well, this is very surprising. from listening to my democratic colleagues, i thought repealing the alternative minimum tax was some nefarious plot to benefit president trump, but that just doesn't square with the reality and what's gone on in the congress over the last decade and a half in regard to tax reform. repealing the alternative minimum tax has long been a strong -- has had strong bipartisan support while serving as either chairman or ranking member of the finance committee, senator baucus and i introduced bipartisan stand-alone
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legislation to repeal the alternative minimum tax, and we did that across several congresses. of course, we were not successful. i hope that this congress will be successful in doing that. our legislation eliminating the alternative minimum tax garnered bipartisan support from across the political spectrum. the current ranking member of the finance committee and the crept minority leader of the entire united states senate even joined senator baucus and me at that time in the efforts as sponsors of that legislation. at the time, a few years ago, the current ranking member even went so far as to say that, quote, the alternative minimum tax should be congress'
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number-one priority for tax reform. i agree with what the current ranking member of the finance committee said a few years ago that i just quoted. the alternative minimum tax repeal should be a top priority. and it seems like it is going to be a top priority this year, because the alternative minimum tax adds needless complexity to the tax code often hits middle-class taxpayers rather than wealthy as originally intended. let me give history of the alternative minimum tax. i think it was passed in 1969 because studies of wealthy people showed about 150 people that were very wealthy, paid no income tax, and there was a real feeling that everybody ought to pay some tax, so the alternative
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minimum tax was set up to hit those 150 and some other people. but it wasn't ever indexed, and now it hits just millions of middle-class taxpayers. that's why to help those middle-class taxpayers that should never have been hit by the alternative minimum tax is the rationale for doing away with it. and we even have the internal revenue service taxpayer advocate repeatedly calling for the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, noting that it, quote, does not achieve its original goal and stealthily increases moderate rates for middle-class taxpayers, end of quote. now i want to move on to the
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corporate tax part of the framework. similarly, between the plans -- similarity between these plans exists -- i'm back at the chart now. for the corporate tax part of the framework. each one of these plans seeks to significantly lower our corporate tax rate. the wyden-coats bill calls for an 11% reduction in the corporate rate, bringing that rate down to -- from 35 to 24. the big six framework aims for a 20% of the highest corporate tax rate. yet, according to the ranking member of the senate finance committee, the corporate rate reducks in the big six framework is, quote, a massive corporate
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tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits shareholders, end of quote. now, the last time i checked, the distribution of the benefit from a corporate rate reduction is the same no matter what party or what president proposed it, and this chart shows that similarity between democrat -- bipartisan plans and the big six framework. i don't think that the senate finance committee ranking member proposed a 24% corporate rate when that wyden-coats pran was -- plan was developed because he wanted to provide a massive benefit to shareholders that he now talks about. i also know for certain that isn't why the big six framework
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aims for 20%. the truth is there has been a really big, growing bipartisan consensus that our corporate tax rate is out of step with other major trading partners. now at 35% -- and it's been at 35% for decades -- our corporate tax rate is the highest among developed countries. while we have been at 35%, our major trading partners have been lowering their rates. on average their rates are more than 10% lower than ours, so averaging maybe 24%. now, that has obviously great impact on jobs in america because it puts american companies at a competitive disadvantage globally, costing american jobs.
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it has also constrained our corporate tax system to its breaking point as we have battled corporate inversions and foreign takeovers. now, how much in the last several years have we heard members of this body complaining about foreign takeovers and inversions to skip the country to save taxes? well, that's one of the reasons for reducing the corporate tax rate so that doesn't happen. moreover, a growing body of economic literature has shown that a significant portion of the corporate tax does indeed fall on workers in the form of lower wages. a nonpartisan joint committee on taxation, as well as the congressional budget office, assumes 25% of corporate tax falls on workers. so you reduce the corporate tax
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rate according to congressional researchers here that work for us, you would assume that workers only get 25% of that benefit to their wages and we even have other studies. many find workers could bear more than 70% of the burden of a high corporate tax rate. while the exact rate borne by workers might be debated, the economic research is clear. a corporate rate reduction means a significant wage increase for workers. in fact, the counsel of economic advisors, very conservatively, estimates workers could see their wages increase by more than $4,000 due to lowering the corporate rate to 20%.
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in reality there's very little in this tax framework that has not had bipartisan support in the past or is not well within the mainstream of bipartisan proposals before us. once again, that statement i just made is the purpose of this chart, to show that this partisan agreement, this partisan agreement, and what we have before the congress coming up, the big six framework, have so many likenesses in it that there is no rationale for the partisanship that we're having on -- in the news media and on the senate floor talking about this framework. so this is why the accusations that the big six tax framework
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is nothing more than a giveaway to the rich and why that statement that we hear so often is so dumbfounding. i want to move on to another issue about whether or not this is tax cuts for the rich. i want you to show one of the proposals before the congress will help the rich. so more perplexing is that those that are screaming tax cuts for the rich and saying it the loudest have also been the most ardent supporters of maintaining one of the largest loopholes for the wealthy, namely the state and local tax deduction. i know that the minority leader
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was down here, i think last week, citing i.r.s. statistics to claim that the deduction was really a middle-class benefit, but the minority leader told only part of that story. so i would like to look at some estimates by the liberal tax policy center whom my democratic colleagues like to cite so often. according to the tax policy center, 90% of the tax increase from eliminating the deduction would fall on taxpayers with incomes exceeding $40,000. and 41% would be paid by taxpayers with income exceeding
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a half million dollars a year. those with incomes exceeding $500 how to make up less than 1% of all tax filers. yet receive 45% of the deduction benefit of claiming state and local tax deduction. i'd like to illustrate it a better way. so i have a chart based on i.r.s. data that looks at the benefit of the deduction by adjusted gross income. prior to going to the chart, i think it is important to point out that only about 30% of the taxpayers even itemize and have the state and local tax deduction available to them. because you have to itemize to
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get that. this chart is going to focus on that 30%. the first group that i have highlighted on this chart are taxpayers with incomes below $50,000. only about 12%, as you can see here, of the tax filers in this group claim the deduction. in other words, 88% of the taxpayers in this category receive no benefit from the state and local tax deduction. now, that 12% does get a fairly nice benefit from it. they are ducting -- deducting a little over $3,000 in taxes for a the state benefit of $500 assuming they are in today's 15%
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bracket. from further down the chart, you will see the benefit afforded low to middle income taxpayers are very much dwarfed by the benefits afforded to the wealthy, or as some of mile democratic colleagues -- of my democratic colleagues have accustomed to referring to them as the millionaires and billionaires where only 12% of the taxpayers with incomes under $50,000 have any benefit of the state and local tax deduction, over 90% of the filers with incomes exceeding $500,000 of -- claim the deduction, tax filers in the $500,000 to $1 million range are on the average
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deducting more in state and local taxes, $53,000 than the incomes of the taxpayers in the first group. if we assume taxpayers in this second group are, under the current law, at 39.6% tax bracket, that translates into a tax benefit of nearly $21,000. for those with incomes exceeding $1 million, there's about an average tax benefit of about $100,000. so if you're truly interested in eliminating tax loopholes for the rich, look no further than the elimination of the state and local tax deduction. its elimination provides an opportunity to better target more tax relief where we want to target, to the middle class,
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making up for any benefit the middle class may lose from deductions, and then some. in other words, the income tax would remain much more progressive. the big six framework provides the tools to do a middle-income tax deduction, including nearly doubling the standard deduction, reducing the current 15% rate to 12% and significantly increasing the child tax credit. the framework also grants significant leeway to the finance and ways and means committee to explore additional options for middle-income tax relief. in addition to being a benefit that overwhelmingly goes to the wealthy, the state and local tax
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deduction also has the effect of benefiting states with high state and local taxes. essentially, the deduction allows wealthy individuals in high-tax states to then offload some of their state and local tax burdens on to peaps in the -- on to taxpayers in the other states. so here i have another chart that lists the top ten states that benefit the most from state and local tax deduction. the states there, as you can see, and the extent to which they benefit from it. you see we have new york way at the top, a little lower is california, a little bit below that is massachusetts. it would seem to me that our democratic colleagues like to talk a big game about
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eliminating loopholes for the wealthy, but when it comes down actually doing it, they are more interested in holding on to a tax subsidy that favors the tax and spend policies of overwhelmingly blue states. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, i rise to speak about the arctic wildlife refuge and the obscenity that will be the attempt by the republicans to insert into the budget bill an ability for the big oil companies of our country to be
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able to drill for oil in this sacred, pristine arctic wildlife refuge. i stand here first thanking senator cantwell from the state of washington, our great democratic leader on the energy committee, for her leadership not just on this issue but so many issues on the environment era that we're having to confront during this era of donald trump. let me just tell you, the republican budget is all about ultimately massive handouts to the 1% richest people in our country and to huge corporations while doing almost nothing for
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working and middle-class americans in our country. the republicans in this bill will slash medicaid and medicare while at the same time blowing a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit to finance tax cuts for the super rich. but if that weren't bad enough, tucked inside of the republican budget is a poison pill, one more massive corporate handout, a giveaway of the arctic national wildlife refuge in alaska to big oil. the senate republicans have included instructions for the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution that would open the door for drilling in one of america's greatest natural resources.
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this g.o.p. budget sets the stage for republicans to ram drilling in the crown jewel of america's wildlife refuge system through the senate using only a 50-vote threshold. this is nothing more than a big oil polar payout. this cold hearted republican budgetary scam only underscores the backward priorities of president trump and congressional republicans. as our fellow citizens in puerto rico look desperately for relief from the devastation of hurricane maria, there has been no refuge in the trump administration. when tens of millions of americans wanted to be sure that their health care would be protected, there was no refuge in the republican party. but the instant the billionaires and oil companies look for a tax cut, a refuge suddenly appears.
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that's when the republicans can find a refuge. unfortunately, it is the arctic wildlife refuge. but the republican plan to offset $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the super wealthy will only result in $1 billion being able to be raised from allowing the oil companies to drill in this pristine refuge. that plan neither makes any sense nor will it actually bring in any sense sufficient to pay for this huge tax break and deficit that they are creating. maybe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think there is a different exchange rate above the arctic circle, but down here, those numbers just don't even come close to adding up.
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this is exactly the kind of polarizing politics that we need to get away from, giveaways to big oil and billionaires at the expense of the american people and our planet. there is a long bipartisan history of fighting to protect the arctic refuge for future generations. it was president eisenhower who began this bipartisan legacy by setting aside the core of the arctic refuge in 1960. it was further protected by president kennedy and senator tom udall's father, the secretary of the interior stuart udall during the kennedy and johnson administrations. and then representative mo udall succeeded in doubling the size of the refuge protecting even
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more of this untrammeled wilderness, protecting this special place has always been a special issue that rose above party lines. and it should continue to do so. in 2015 the interior department recommended that congress designate this area as a wilderness, not open it to drilling. in making that wilderness recommendation, the department of interior concluded that the arctic refuge exemplifies the idea of wilderness, to leave some remnants of this nation's natural heritage intact, wild and free, to control or manipulate the order. the coastal plain is the biological heart of the refuge. the fish and wildlife service has called it the center for wildlife activity in the refuge. it supports more than 250 species, including caribou, polar bears, migratory bird. but that is precisely the area where this republican
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legislation would allow big oil to drill forever spoiling this ecosystem. two years ago we lifted the four-decade-old ban on exporting american crude oil. as a result of that giveaway to the big oil industry, we are now exporting more u.s. crude oil, nearly one million barrels a day, than we could ever produce from drilling in the arctic refuge. we have a fracking revolution that is taking place in our country right now. you hear it over and over again, from president trump. you hear it from the republicans. there's a fracking revolution. we're on our way to energy independence. we should lift the ban on exporting oil out of the united states. we should start selling it around the world to the highest bidder. we have so much oil that we can afford to send it out of our own country. don't worry about that.
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there's no problem with exporting american oil. as a matter of fact, what the trump administration also says is don't worry about the fuel economy standards in america. we're going to start to review them so we can lower, lower the goals for our country for making the vehicles which we drive in our country more efficient. well, where do we put the oil in our country? well, we put 70% of the oil that we consume in our country into gasoline tanks. you don't have to be a detective to figure out what happens if instead of having our cars continue to get more and more and more efficient in terms of reducing the amount of oil that we need and instead having our standards get lower and lower and as a result we need to consume more oil. so what does the trump administration say?
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well, they say that they're going to review the fuel economy standards. they're going to take a we can't do it stance. they're going to take a it's too hard to improve the fuel economy standards. well, that's what they said for four decade, too hard. but during the obama administration they were able to put on the books a standard that moves america to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025 in the united states of america, 54.5 miles per gallon. that's where the plug-in hybrid revolution comes from. that's where the all-electric vehicle revolution comes from. that's where elon musk comes from. that's where all these statements coming from the chinese, the indians, volvo, others all comes from. it's this movement now towards plug-in hybrid, all-electric vehicles, reducing the amount of
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oil that we consume, not just here in the united states but around the globe. and what does the trump administration say? we can't do it. it's too hard. we're going to review those standards. and so they're saying we don't have the technological capability to accomplish something that avoids the necessity of us having to drill in a pristine wildlife refuge, to put a gasoline station on top of something that should be preserved for generations to come. they're saying we can't improve the fuel economy standards. we're going to export a million barrels of oil a day. and guess what? we're going to go up into the arctic refuge in order to find the oil so that gas guzzlers can stay on the road, so we can export oil to china, and that we're going to allow finally for this oil industry, for the big oil cartel that has now taken over the department of interior and the department of energy,
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the e.p.a. the ability to be able to spoil one of the last untrammeled, perfect, pristine areas in our country. well, that is just fundamentally wrong, ladies and gentlemen, and we're going to have a vote on that out here on the floor of the united states senate during this budget debate. to raise $1 billion total as they run up a deficit of $1.5 trillion, they spoil this sacred part of our country. it's immoral. it's wrong. and you know what it says about the trump administration? it says that it's handing over the keys to our government to the big oil companies. it's saying no matter how many hurricanes hit our country, no matter how warm the water is off the coast of our country, that they're going to remain in climate change denial, that it's really not a problem?
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therefore, you don't have to increase the fuel economy standards, you don't have to reduce the amount of fossil fuels going into the atmosphere. you don't have to worry. climate change, ignore it. fuel economy standards, we're not going to do it. what is the one thing we will do? well, for the oil industry we're going to allow them to drill in the pristine arctic wilderness. immoral. fundamentally immoral. 60 years going back to eisenhower, we figured out how to protect it. but now at the height of a fracking revolution with millions of new barrels of oil, at the height of an incredible plug-in hybrid, all-electric vehicle revolution as we're reducing the amount of oil that we're co cob consuming in -- wee consuming in our country, at the height of storms that are assaulting every part of our nation with an intensity that we've never seen in our history, the president says i'm going to ignore all of those issues and just focus upon what big oil wants. so this is going to be a
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monumental debate that we have here on the floor of the senate this week. and i'm looking forward to that debate because i think the american people are going to want to know who has voted which way on this critical environmental issue, the environmental issue, in my opinion, that we'll be taking on the floor of the senate this week. and we'll be led by our gait leader on -- great leader on energy and environment issues, senator maria cantwell, from the state of washington. she has been a clear, consistent, insistent voice on these issues. and i think this week we're going to have the kind of historic debate that the american people will want us to have on this issue. with that, mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to the floor to speak against the budget resolution's containment of language that might direct our colleagues in
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the future to open up drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. i thank my colleague from massachusetts for his leadership on this issue and for being here on the senate floor tonight to talk about how important it is that we continue to maintain the wildlife refuge that exists. you know, our public lands have been under assault from this administration. it comes in all forms and it certainly comes in the form of trying to use the antiquities act in reverse and to basically say you can open up public lands for drilling. that's really caused a controversy in utah with bears ears. the number of sportsmen, fishermen, hunters who value these public lands, who don't want to see them going to -- them go to a list of individuals that might take this resource, that it took teddy roosevelt and i'm pretty sure a couple hundred years for our country to amass, now people are putting a for sale sign on them to give a tax break to millionaires.
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so it's not that this is the only issue. as i said, the notion that people are taking our public lands and trying to turn them back, the notion that people are giving land to coal companies so they can harvest coal off of federal land and then not charging them a royalty rate that's compensatory, we tried to fix that and obviously this secretary of interior is trying to roll that back and give coal companies a sweetheart deal. so that's another thing. now we have an e.p.a. director who is basically had a mining company walk into his office and say, oh, by the way, we want to drill at the headwaters of bristol bay, the largest salmon run, probably responsible for 50% of sockeye salmon around the world, and immediately after he left the e.p.a.'s director's office, the e.p.a. sent -- the administrator sent a letter out
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saying, yes, let's move forward on this idea. so-so much for due process and so much for preserving what has taken us hundreds of years to put together so that the public can recreate on public lands. so, yes, the hunting, fishing, native american recreational communities are all upset, and now what's the latest play? oh, let's stick in the budget resolution the opening of the arctic wildlife refuge. something that has been so precious to the united states of america as the serengeti for wildlife, an intact ecosystem that doesn't exist in other places of the united states and yet people are trying this very what i call sneak attack just like they did 12 years ago, just as if people tried to open up anwar before and on its own merits couldn't get it opened up so put it in the defense authorization bill thinking there's no way people could vote
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against money for the troops. so if you stick it in the d.o.d. bill, that's how we can get the arctic wildlife refuge open. well, it didn't work then and it's not going to work now. the american people are not for legislative sneak attacks, backdoorways to threaten members. i know the president wants to get a big package together, get health care in there, throw in the arctic wildlife refuge, hope that people can't vote no and move forward. i would say if this is such a wonderful idea, let it be stand on its own merits. this area, as we can see, is a very pristine part of the united states, having oil rigs and now people are saying, oh, well, we could do some sort of drilling. why do you want to have drilling in a refuge? when people say there are refuges that have had drilling,
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if they were prior to having a refuge, yes. as i mentioned this is a serengeti of -- carabu and other species and to say nothing about the population in the region of polar bears. why do we want to destroy this? it's not the size that we are somehow thinking that we're going to get such oil reserves out of. in fact, the issue is really with this price of oil and the export market that's now been created, this oil is going on to the larger world market. why is it that we think this is going to help us in the united states? so people are trying to use a budget process to increase the deficit by $1.5 million to pay
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for tax cuts for wealthy people. so you're willing to deg gate the environment to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. i don't think the american people will agree to it. they know that the wildlife refuge has been attacked many times. they know that every time someone has had to come up with a backdoor way to try to get the refuge open. i think my colleagues should understand and take note that these have all failed. they failed in the past because this idea is not the brightest, most brilliant idea in america. it's not the thing that is going to turn the u.s. economy around. it's not the thing that is going to help us really get tax reform. it is not the idea that is even going to help us with the
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bipartisan effort to move forward on an energy package that is an energy package. if you think about it, we passed an energy bill out of here 5-15. if it was something that could have been done in that package, it would have been done in that package. so i know now that we are going to have more exploration in alaska. i know there's going to be more exploration in many parts of the arctic. there's going to be a rush of arctic nations to look at oil drilling off of our coast and off the arctic circle. the united states should get ready and participate in those discussions. i'm first in line to say that we need a fleet of icebreakers to be ready for the advent of the change in the arctic. there will be many discussions about where drilling will take
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place. i guarantee even if you opened up the wildlife refuge, it would not stop debate about more drilling in alaska. let's remember we set aside this pristine area for a very specific purpose, to keep the uniqueness that has existed in this part of the world just a very, very, very small piece of it and continue to have the debate in other parts of alaska and in the arctic bm what the -- about what the development of oil resources are going to be. so i encourage my colleagues not to paul prey to -- not to fall prey to another backdoor attempt to open up the arctic wildlife refuge. don't fall to a cynical bill where somehow somebody is going to try to cram everything in it and say you can't vote against it because it has too much for your state. let's work together, agree on the things that we can agree on and move forward.
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i guarantee you our energy policy will be better in america for doing that. i thank the president and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: if no one yields time, then time will be charged equally.
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quorum call:
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mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming.
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mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent that following leader remarks on october 18, 2017, that the time until 3:00 p.m. be for debate on the amendments equally divided between the managers or their designees and following the use or yielding back of that time the senate vote in relation to the amendments listed with no secretary-degree amendments in order prior to the votes. hatch 1144, sanders 1119. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. enzi: senators should be prepared for additional amendment votes to occur during the series at 3:00 p.m. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: i also ask unanimous
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consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. wednesday, october 18, further, following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, following leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of h. con. res. 71. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until >> the senate today confirmed to be deputy under secretary of defense to begin debate on the 2018 budget resolution which is key to accomplishing the gop go a passing tax reform this year.
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the budget includes instruction allowing republicans to avoid a democratic filibuster with the 52c majority, republicans can only four to is to senators. if every member of the democratic caucus path boat snow with vice president pence breaking up a 50/50 thai. >> the senate voted along party lines to begin debate on the budget resolution. what's the main purpose of what are the plans for debate and votes of the next few days. >> the senate budget resolutions would set the top spending levels for the next year. this year it will include reconciliation instructions which will allow republicans to move forward with the tax bill without democrats on board. around new they took that partyline vote and that starts the 50 hour clock.
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once that's over they will proceed to the voting session on thursday. that goes late into the night and can include votes on dozens or hundreds of amendments to the budget resolution. >> there's no filibuster allowed. >> correct we've written about several tweets that senator rand paul which say senators mccain and graham torpedo the budget and caps on for more spending. he said i told the white house and gop leaders that if they stick to their all caps, the rest of the budget is fine. although it's a simple but important change they could ma
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make, the ball is in their court. what does this mean for rand paul's potential final vote? >> it sounds like he will be a no on the final budget resolution. he's unhappy with the discussions separate from the budget resolution to increase discussion are discretionary fug later in the year. senators mccain and graham want increased defense spending and rand paul wants to continue with the spinning cap set in place by 2011 law. he had a press called today and he also wants reconciliation instructions that would allow the healthcare repeal and replace debate to continue this year to overhaul entitlement programs. that's i speak with john cornyn today and he said the budget a stain where it's at. sounds like what's in there stain in there.
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and if rand paul is unhappy with that republicans are okay with him voting no. >> to think the vice president will be needed for tie-breaking votes? >> it doesn't sound like it. in terms of which amendments get brought up and where the level of support exists within the public and party he could potentially be needed on those, but they're not filed yet we don't know which would be brought up for floor debate. on the final budget resolution they seem to be in safe territory. >> what other senators should we watch going forward i what amendments are catching your eye? >> the moderate house republicans seem to be on board. we heard from senator collins that she's a yes. senator murkowski is leaning yes senators mccain and graham are leaning yes as well but they want insurance on defense spending later in the year.
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for amendments we know that democrats are going to go after republicans for this provision. in addition to reconciliation to do the gop taxable this reconciliation that could allow the energy committee in the house and senate to open up the national wildlife refuge to oil and gas drilling. we expect one or several amendments to prevent that. if the republican senate stays united they should be able to knock down attempts to remove it from the resolution. not sure about other amendments where they'll be coming from. the predominately be democratic amendments. we don't expect any republican once. >> beside the tax reform framework in the budget
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resolution, gives instruction to the senate energy committee for budget savings. what's the purpose of that? is it tied into the oil drilling? >> through the reconciliation process this version of the senate budget is what will come out of conference committee it tells the committee to find 1 billion in savings over ten years. is expected to allow the energy committees to open up the national wildlife refuge to oil and gas drilling and revenues would increase government coffers by 1 billion or more during the next decade. then they would have the way to open up to oil and gas drilling which is something that lisa murkowski has wanted for a long time. >> will keep following you on your twitter handle. will look for your reporting at


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