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tv   U.S. Senate 10182017  CSPAN  October 18, 2017 9:30am-11:31am EDT

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want to make sure that the payments go to consumers and working on that language and have joint intent is to get this language finalized and put intor place. again, thank you for the short amount of time during the busy day on the floor and i want to thank chairmaner alexander to gt this done in the right way for the people in the century. >> enough to live coverage of this then it here on c-span2. eternal spirit, today we praise you with our whole heart. you continue to exceed our expectations with your bountiful blessings and tender mercies. inspire our lawmakers to remember your generosity to them
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and this land we love. in these days of stress and strain, continue to be the shepherd who will guide them to your desired destination. lord, thank you for forgiving our sins, healing our sickness, filling our lives with good things, and surrounding us with your love. continue to be a celestial parent to our nation and world, sustaining us all with your tender compassion and mighty power. god of mercy and grace,
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transform our dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. we pray in your marvelous name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, october 18, 2017. to the senate:
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under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: it goes without saying that the obama years were not easy for america's middle class. many of the men and women we represent felt forgotten over the last decade. they found themselves stuck in a stumbling economy without the opportunity to get ahead. looking on as paychecks stagnated, jobs moved overseas and government spent far beyond its means while middle-class belts tightened. in my state and in so many more around the country, these are the problems that faced many families and communities over the last ten years, and they are the concerns at the heart of the comprehensive budget that the senate just voted to proceed
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to yesterday. this budget is a serious plan to put our country on a more responsible fiscal path and also to set us on a course for a more fulsome economy that lifts up the middle class. on the fiscal side, it provides a path to balance with serious reductions in the growth of federal spending, complying fully with previous spending caps while also providing a way to increase defense resources in the event that a bipartisan agreement on those caps can be reached. on the economic side, it clears the way for committees to continue their critical work to spur steady economic growth while providing legislative tools to advance tax reform. the single-most important action we can take today to help our economy reach its full potential. because as we all know, our archaic tax code is a significant roadblock standing in the way of america's economic future. it holds back families and small
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businesses. it makes it harder for those who are not well-connected elites to succeed. it even incentivizes companies to send jobs and investments overseas. that's really clearly wrong. in today's increasingly competitive global economy, we cannot afford a tax code that forces american workers to compete against foreign competitors with one hand tied behind their backs as our current code does. we need to act. under chairman hatch's leadership, the finance committee has made progress developing commonsense tax reform goals with further instructions from this budget, the committee will be able to complete its work and report legislation that promotes economic growth, that helps keep more money in the pockets of hardworking men and women, and that closes special interest loopholes while preserving core middle class incentives. our tax reform bill centers on a
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few things: bringing more jobs and investment to our country and then keeping them here. making the tax code fairer so it doesn't benefit just wealthy elites. and lowering rates so hardworking families are able to keep more of their paychecks. so the main goal is this: we want to take more money out of washington's pockets and put more money in the pockets of hardworking men and women throughout our country. these are goals shared by the president, by his team, and by senate colleagues. they are certainly shared by our republican colleagues. i would think they'd be shared by all of us on both sides of the aisle and our democratic friends did share them until just recently. i hope they'll continue to support these commonsense goals rather than just blindly oppose this effort to fight corporate offshoring and to eliminate loopholes for the wealthy. simply because they don't like the current occupant of the white house.
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there's no need for our democratic friends to continue inventing reasons to oppose tax reform or to make more claims designed to distort reality. i hope they'll decide to change course and work together in a serious way to accomplish what should be bipartisan goals, goals they once vocally supported, seemingly until president trump came along. so let's deliver relief to american workers and families with an economy that reaches for its true potential once more. and the next step to get there is to pass the comprehensive budget before us with its tools to move our country forward. i'd like to once again thank chairman enzi and the members of the senate budget committee for their fine work on this budget. the presiding officer: the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed.
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under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h. con. res. 71, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 245, h. con. res. 71, concurrent resolution establishing the congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2018, and so forth. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 3:00 p.m. will be equally divided between the managers or their designees. mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, this week the senate is debating a fiscal year 20818 budget resolution -- fiscal year 2018 budget resolution focused on growing america's economy through tax policies that put more money in the hands of hardworking americans. tax reform is long overdue and is needed to jump-start our nation's economic growth. it's crucial that congress prove
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this fiscal framework in order to eliminate the dated and stifling tax policies that are holding back not only investment and productivity, but american families. it's time for more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks. the tax reform framework recently announced by the president and congressional leaders represents the beginning of a process aimed at boosting america's economic growth and putting more money in the pockets of everyday americans. that tax framework has to be defined by the finance committee. this just sets up a process so that that can be done as easily as possible. it is crucial that we allow u.s. companies large and small, especially small, to better compete both at home and overseas which will make the united states more attractive for investment and to do business. this will improve our competitiveness. it will help keep good-paying
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jobs here at home. and it will bring back jobs that have been lost. lowering taxes on small businesses will also help unleash the ingenuity of america's job creators, and we are the most ingenious and best -- most inventive in the world. unfortunately, as many hardworking families personally understand, our economy has experienced eight years of stagnant growth. this economic downturn and slow growth has resulted in a lost decade that has cost the nation millions of jobs. family income is not rising as fast as it should, which has real consequences for our future. when family incomes fail to grow, it becomes difficult for parents to pay for their children's education and for their own needs. sluggish family income growth also means less money for retirement or health care and makes it harder to save a down payment on a house.
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it's no surprise that incomes are stuck given america's overall economic stagnation over the past decade. and without wage growth, american families find it difficult to improve their standard of living. we must do better for these hardworking american families, and this budget resolution will help put our nation on a better fiscal track with a combination of restrained spending, reduced tax burdens and a growing economy. the budget puts in motion a process to cut taxes for american families and job creators by $1.5 trillion over ten years. in addition to keeping more money in the pockets of hardworking families, tax reform done right will spur investment and reinvigorate productivity here at home. america's tax system is incredibly complicated. this budget will provide congress with the opportunity to
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make more tax code simplifications and make it fairer for all americans. we especially want to make sure families, small business, and workers are not penalized for their success. simplifying the tax code is an important part of tax reform efforts. america's current code is made up of more than four million words. that's seven times the length of leo tolstoy's "war and peace" and it's more than two times the combined length of the complete works of william shakespeare and the king james bible. the national taxpayers' union recently released some figures that calculate the burden of tax compliance for families and small business. the national tax payers union learned that the total annual time burden of tax compliance is more than six billion hours.
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let me repeat that. the total time tax burden for compliance is more than six billion hours. that's a lot of family time. that cost families and small businesses nearly $34 billion a year on tax software and other out-of-pocket expenses, as well as -- this is the important part -- as well as $229 billion in time and labor to comply with the tax code. the tax code's combined burden of $263 billion is more than the gross domestic product of154 nations. understand just how complex and outdated the u.s. tax code has become, it's important to put it in historical context of how it's grown over the years. in 1913, the 1040 income tax form consisted of three pages
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with one page of instructions. more than 100 years later, that same form now consists of two pages with 106 pages of basic instructions and depending on taxpayer circumstances, 13 separate schedules each with numerous pages of instructions. in fact, more than 70,000 pages of instructions total. this is why every tax season americans are forced to wade through an ever-changing labyrinth of forms and regulations when they file their returns. each year hardworking families navigate a minefield of tax definitions and tax tests in order to fully reap the benefits of tax credits. is it any wonder that many who are eligible may not even claim these credits because of this complex web of tax forms? for example, there are many definitions of child in the tax
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code, meaning a family with children may qualify for some child benefits, but not others. and fail to receive the full benefits they deserve. to promote fair treatment, our budget is focused on providing the tools needed to simplify the tax code. let me repeat that. these are the tools needed to simplify the tax code. the finance committee still has to plug in details and eliminations and a final version, and that would allow americans to keep more of what they earn. that's another part of the process, but this part of the process is necessary to make sure that we get to that part of the process. hardworking families deserve an economy that provides higher wages and more and better jobs. pro-growth tax reform boosts small businesses and it can free americans to make their own decisions about how to spend their hard-earned money.
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i want to repeat some of those numbers. i'm an accountant. usually numbers put people to sleep. i think these are ones people will understand. the national taxpayers union did some figuring on the burden of tax compliance by families and small businesses. this national taxpayers union learned that the total annual time burden of tax compliance is more than six billion hours, which costs families and small businesses nearly $34 billion a year on tax software and other out-of-pocket expenses. as well as -- and this is the important part -- $229 billion in time and labor to comply with the tax code. the tax code's combined burden of $263 billion is more than the gross domestic product of 154 countries. we need to take action. we need to pass this budget so
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that the process can be simplified and expedited and we can get to that yet this year, so the people when they are filing their taxes next year can take advantage of what's being done here. i think we'll have bipartisan support on making these important changes, and the process is set up so there can be that bipartisan support, since it goes through the finance committee and we have been promised that there will be a markup which allows everybody to make amendments to the tax code and the tax bill and then it will come to the floor where everybody will have a chance to make amendments to the bill. but this sets the budget and sets up the opportunity to have some tax reform this year so that people can take advantage of it next year. i would ask my colleagues to support this budget and to work with us on getting tax reform that will make a difference for all the hardworking americans. i yield the floor and suggest
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the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i want to waive the
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quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: mr. president, i want to explain why if i leave it in a quorum call, all the time is charged to my side. if i take it out of a quorum call, even though no one is here to speak, it gets divided equally. that's fair. that's what we're trying to do. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: if no one yields time, the time will be divided equally.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: propose -- mr. president, yesterday the chairman and ranking member of the help committee came together on a package for a health care law. it was the product of months of difficult negotiations. like all good negotiations, both sides gave some, both sides got some. the product is something neither side is completely happy with, but both sides can move forward with. that's what a good, fair compromise looks like. when bipartisanship is desperately sought after, this is not even a flicker, but a
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nice flame of bipartisanship burning brightly, and then a few minutes ago, president trump tweeted, quote, i am supportive of lamar as a person, and also of the process, but i can never support bailing out insurance companies who have made a fortune with obamacare. there are many reasons to feel vehemently upset, strongly upset about this tweet, how wrong it is. first, frankly, the president doesn't know what he's talking about in the compromise. it doesn't bail out insurance companies. it helps people who are sick and who need health care. it keeps their premiums low. it allows them to go to a doctor or get a medicine that they need. senators alexander and murray made sure in the provisions they were writing that the money
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would not go to the insurance companies, but rather would go to millions of americans who need help because they couldn't afford health care on their own. the president ought to know what he's talking about when he tweets about bills. because on this one he had no understanding of what it's about. this hel -- this helps people, millions of people. this keeps the premiums down. this allows americans, working class, middle class, many of whom are in rural areas in red states, it allows them to go to the doctor, go to the hospital, get a medicine. nothing bothers americans more when they can't get health care they desperately need for themselves or a loved one. so first the president ought to know what the bill is about before he tweets. clearly from this tweet, he doesn't. second, this president keeps
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zigging and zagging so it's impossible to govern. two thursdays ago the president called me in the gym and said let's work on a bipartisan solution. it was his initiation. he first talked about let's repeal. and replace. i said that's off the table. i then told him senator murray and senator alexander are outlining a compromise, and i said each side got something. and the president suggested that he call senator alexander and i call senator murray and encourage them. i called senator murray. he called senator alexander, and he called senator alexander, from what senator alexander told me, several times to encourage him. and yesterday he called the murray-alexander deal a very good solution. now this morning he says he
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can't support it. can't support bailing out insurance companies who made a fortune with obamacare. wrong on the facts, as i mentioned. doesn't know what the bill is. we should have a president who actually knows the facts of bills he talks about. but second, he's totally inconsistent. for it one day, against it the next day. you can't govern -- mr. president, you cannot govern a country, you cannot keep america great if you don't know what's in the bills and don't have a consistent policy about them. but he keeps zigging and zagging. our only hope is maybe tomorrow he'll be for this again. finally, a word in general, we all know that there are extremes in america. the hard right has a lot of
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power here. if every time the hard right says jump, the president says how high, his presidency will be a failure. yet that's what's happened repeatedly here. repeatedly. the hard right doesn't represent america on health care. 80% of the people did not like the trumpcare bill that the hard right supported. 80%. the majority of americans by a substantial margin want to see obamacare strengthened, not repealed. the hard right doesn't. they want to get rid of it. but if the president simply is responding to them, it's not leadership. he did the same thing on daca. leader pelosi and i met with him. it was clear what we sought, approval of the dream act. he agreed provided there were border security, explicitly no
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wall. the next day the right wing attacked him. laura ingraham, one of those radio commentators said he should be combreeched. -- impeached. i think breitbart called him amnesty trump and he reversed himself. that's blatant fear. when you're president you have an obligation to lead. and this presidency has been so unsuccessful in accomplishing things, he can blame mitch mcconnell, which the president has done, or the republicans in the senate. he can blame the democrats. but really, the reason that we're not getting anything done and his presidency has been so bare of accomplishment is that this president is embracing a hard right extreme position that
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is very far away from what americans want. and his presidency will continue to fail, continue to be a failure if he continues to do that. so i would say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, going back to the agreement, the agreement is fair and it's down the middle. as i said, each side gave. let's move forward. let's get a large percentage, a large number of democrats and republicans to sponsor this legislation. let leader mcconnell have the good sense and the courage to put it on the floor. i would bet my bottom dollar it will pass. let speaker ryan do the same. and we will have shown that we can get something done in a bipartisan way. lamar alexander is not obstructing. patty murray is not obstructing. the president is obstructing at the moment. we should overcome that obstruction and work together.
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that's what the american people want. so i hope the president rethinks his position. he's rethought it several times already. i hope he actually reads and learns what's in the bill. and i hope we can get this done not for any party's sake or any individual's sake, but for the american people's sake, the millions and millions of americans who can't afford high premiums, who desperately need health care and medicine and who are praying for us to do something to help them. now on the budget, yesterday the republican majority voted to start debate on a budget resolution which would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. so much for the deficit hawks. slash medicare and medicaid by $1.5 trillion. so much for the many people who don't want to cut it, who promised not to cut it, including the president.
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and blows a huge hole in the deficit. as i said, deficit hawks. and finally, favors the very wealthy. my friend here was once head of the club for growth. i salute him. he states his position. he believes tax cuts on the very wealthy and on big corporations will create jobs. we can have that debate. it's called trickle-down economics. but he's honest about it. some of the others -- our secretary of the treasury, our advisors to the president, many in this chamber saying this is a middle-class tax cut, when 80% of the benefits go to the top 1%, when we remove the estate tax which doesn't apply to anyone whose it estate is less than close to $11 million. it's a tax cut for the wealthy. some people believe that's a
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good way to exercise policy. the american people don't. but let's debate it that way. our republican colleagues, just like on health care, are ashamed of this bill. they can't debate it on what they really believe. and so they put up these chimera s. they sort of make it up. no, we won't have a deficit. there will be huge growth. i think the secretary of the treasury said it will decrease the deficit by $1 trillion. that was laughable. oh, it will go to the middle class, not the wealthy. when they lowered the top rate, raised the bottom rate, get rid of the estate tax and allow pass-throughs which will mainly go to wealthy, very wealthy individuals to reduce their tax rate to 15%, that's in the outline.
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so today we begin the process of shining light on this awful proposal, of telling the truth. that's what the amendment process will be today. today we're going to vote on a democratic amendment to strike the $1 trillion of cuts in medicaid. if our colleagues don't want to cut medicaid, they have -- they should vote for this. if our colleagues are okay with $1 trillion of cuts in medicaid, let them vote against the amendment. but believe me, the american people will know exactly how each member of this chamber feels when it comes to cutting medicaid dramatically. we'll also propose an amendment to strike medicare. in the health care bill, in one of the reiterations, we debated cutting medicaid. we haven't debated cutting medicare, but now we will. $473 billion of cuts are in the exact budget that our republican colleagues wish us to vote for.
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and it will shine a light on what really is in this bill. not what is said. how many of you on the republican side have mentioned that this bill cuts medicare and medicaid, this budget proposal? you going to start mentioning it today or are you going to try to hide it? okay. because it does. and, by the way, the idea that this doesn't count because it's just in a budget that we can ignore is belied by the fact that there is statutory paygo -- statutory, not rules -- and it says that medicare is cut 4% if there's a deficit in terms of tax cuts. are you going to cut medicare 4%? we don't want to do that. we hope you don't. but this budget would require that under the paygo rules, and
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that is law. so we're going to have amendments. do you want to cut medicaid or not? yes or no. do you want to cut medicare or not? yes or no. do you want to vote for a $1.5 trillion deficit or not? yes or no. and do you want 80% of these tax cuts to go to the top 1%, to the very wealthy, while middle-class taxes are raised for many people? yes or no. today begins the process of truth. today begins the process that shines light on all of the misrepresentations by secretary mnuchin and gary cohn and by the president himself who says he's going to just cut taxes on the
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middle class, not on the wealthy. this process will be going on for awhile. there's going to be a very bright light shining on our republican colleagues in the house and senate. it's going to take them awhile to come up with a bill. it's not easy writing a massive tax bill. and all the while, while they're writing it, and certainly once it comes out, that bright line of truth will produce, in my judgment, the same result we had on health care. the more the american people see, the less they'll like it. right now cbs poll yesterday, two days, sunday, said 58% of the american people believe that the trump bill is tax cuts for the wealthy. only 19% believe it's nor -- for the middle class. that number is going to get worse, my colleagues, just as the health care thing got worse. and the american people turn
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against you as we democrats shine the bright line on what it really did. you cannot govern from the hard right, as wealthy as they are, as much as they threaten you with primaries. it's not going to work. we still have a foundation of democracy here. we're still a foundation of honor and truth. and when honor and truth and sunlight hit this bill, it will crumble. now i say to some of my colleagues, we want to work with you on a good tax reform bill, one that is revenue neutral, one that doesn't favor the wealthy. we believe small businesses should get tax breaks. we believe money from overseas should come back and be used to create jobs. there are lots of things we can do in common ground without blowing a hole in the deficit, without cutting medicare and medicaid, without favoring the rich. defeat this bill, we will work
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with you, just as we have on health care. we said if you defeated that bill, we'll try to come up with a bipartisan compromise. and we have. one that the president is flip-flopping on, zig-zagging on, saying yes one day and no the next. but we've come up with a compromise and the same thing can happen on taxes. the same thing. so today is a turning point, a beginning turning point in the tax debate. the day that's what's really in this republican bill will come to light, and the american people, as they learn about it, will not like it. i yield the floor.
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mr. toomey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania.
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mr. toomey: mr. president, i yield myself such time as i may consume. i want to say a few words about our budget resolution that i'm hoping we will be passing this week, and how important it is that we do, in fact, pass this. i also want to clarify a few issues because many elements of the tax reform legislation that is -- continues to be a work in progress, many elements have been mischaracterized, others have been made up out of the clear blue sky. but let me start with the budget resolution and let me start by thanking chairman enzi for the very hard work he's done, the great work he's done in bringing together the republican conference around a budget resolution that i think is very likely to pass, and let's be candid about what this is about. the budget resolution is about giving us the tool to later this year pass tax reform. that's what this budget resolution is about. it's a misnomer, really, when you think about it. the most important substantive
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item in the budget resolution by far is the procedural tools that will -- that it will give us to pass tax reform with a simple majority vote here in the senate so that a minority of the body is not able to block tax reform by filibuster. so that's what this is about. that's what we're endeavoring to accomplish here. why is it important? well, the main reason it's so important is because for so long, we have been -- we, our entire country, has been laboring with such feeble economic growth. for the last 60 years prior to the obama administration, average annual economic growth in america was 3.4%. 3.4%. during the entire eight-year administration of president obama, we never once had a single year where we reached even 3%. and the congressional budget office believes that we are now locked into the indefinite future of sub-2% economic
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growth. and that's what we just have to accept. we have to settle for the fact that we're no longer a booming economy, we are not capable of being a booming economy. there are a lot of problems with this, mr. president. i believe it's completely unacceptable to police chief that we somehow -- i don't know, because a calendar year turned on a page or because barack obama was elected president some years ago, that somehow it's not possible for america to have the robust economic growth that used to be ordinary. it's not true that we're somehow consigned to feeble growth, and it matters. if our economy is growing at 2%, it takes 36 years to double the standard of living for the average family. if we just manage to get the growth to 3% -- and that's less than the historical average -- then we can double our standard of living in just over 20 years. it's a big difference. it's a big difference, mr. president, in the standard of living of the people that i
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represent, and that's what this is about. so the tax reform that will follow if we get this budget resolution passed this week, the tax reform that many of us are working very hard on has got two big goals, two big goals certainly for me, and as i have had many discussions with my colleagues on the finance committee and outside the finance committee, i think these goals are widely shared. the first is it absolutely has to provide tax relief for hardworking americans, middle income, lower income, people of modest means who -- many of whom live paycheck to paycheck. there has to be a direct tax benefit for those pennsylvanians, those arkansans, those people all across america. how are we going to do that? it's very clear, no question, there will be a reduction in the rates, tax rates that are applied to income for hardworking americans. there's going to be an increase in the standard deduction that they can take, so that means
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just a bigger chunk of their income that doesn't get taxed at all. that's absolutely going to be a feature of this tax reform. we're going to increase the child tax credit so that people who have the costs of raising a family with kids are going to get a credit for that -- towards that cost. the combined effect of these things are absolutely going to lower tax rates for hardworking americans, for lower and middle-class families, and if it didn't accomplish that, it wouldn't even get out of the finance committee, much less pass a vote on this floor. so that is number one. there are still dials to be turned, rates to be set exactly where the various brackets begin and end. these details are still a work in progress, but that goal is going to be achieved. that's item number one. but the other item is really important, too. this is the process by which all of these very same families get
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an indirect pay raise. they get a pay raise. it will happen over time. it will happen in different ways. and that is by creating the incentives to maximize economic growth. to get away from this sub-2% barely growing economy we have been tolerating and get back to something closer to what's normal for america, an economy that's growing at at least 3%. what happens if we have stronger economic growth? well, i mentioned before, we increase the standard of living much more quickly. people get to see their kids having a better life, a better standard of living than they had, and they can see that that trend is going to continue. it happens because new businesses start to get launched again. it happens because existing businesses expand. both new businesses and expanding businesses hire more workers. when you hire more workers, especially at a time when most economists think we're at something close to what they consider full employment, it
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puts direct immediate upward pressure on wages, which is what we have been waiting for. so not only will a working family discover they owe less money to uncle sam, but they're very, very likely to quickly be in a position where they are getting a pay raise because their employer has to pay them more to keep them, because what we're going to do is create more demand for workers. so how do we do that? well, one of the ways we're going to do that, i hope -- and this is, again, a work in progress that's under way, but we ought to make our business tax regime, our big business tax code competitive. anyone who looks at this honestly knows that our tax code is not competitive today. american workers and businesses lose out to competition from overseas because overseas other countries have much more competitive tax codes. you know, it could be -- it's entirely possible, i think you
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could make the case, that the measure tax code -- american tax code is the worst in the world. it's that bad. and when it's that bad, that means our workers, our businesses are much less able to compete. so we're going to try to fix that. that means lowering the rate on income tax for our business to something that's comparable to what the rest of the world pays, rather than the extremely high outlier rate that we have today. it also means, mr. president, we ought to allow our businesses to expense capital when they put it to work. what does that mean? that means when a company goes out and says we're going to buy a new piece of equipment, a new piece of machinery, a new vehicle, a new backhoe, whatever it might be, you allow the company to recognize that expense when the expense occurs for tax purposes. that might just seem like common sense. people would say why wouldn't you do that? but we don't today. for a large category of new equipment that businesses go out and purchase, even though they have to buy it in the year in
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which they put it into service, they have to come up with the cash, they don't get to reduce their income accordingly except over many, many years. well, what that means is it makes it effectively more expensive to buy that equipment. they have to pay tax on money they don't have. well, that means they buy less equipment. what difference does this make? well, it makes a lot of difference. there is -- again, there is a direct effect and there is an incorrect effect. the direct effect by allowing businesses to fully expense the capital that they have put to work, we're going to encourage them to buy more items, so that's going to be more work, more production for the kind of machinery and equipment that these businesses are likely to buy. but it gets better than that because when businesses deploy that capital, when they buy a new piece of equipment, a new piece of machinery, upgrade their software, whatever they're doing with this capital expenditure, they're making their workforce more productive. they're making their employees
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able to produce more in a given hour, a given day. and when workers are more productive, that's when a business can afford to pay them more. in fact, has to pay them more. that's where pay raises come from. it comes from productivity growth. productivity growth comes when capital gets put to work. we're going to encourage more of that, and that's going to result in higher wages, higher income for the people we all represent. the third point i want to make about this tax reform is it's very important that we fix a broken part of our code that deals with overseas subsidiaries of american firms and foreign firms that operate in the united states. that part of our tax code is a disaster. we have all read about the corporate inversions, for instance, where an american-based company seeks to be acquired by a foreign company for the sole purpose of lowering their tax burden. that happens. it happens because our tax code drives it. we've all heard about the
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$2 trillion to $3 trillion of profits that american companies have earned in overseas subsidiaries. they won't bring the money home because if they were to, they would have to pay another huge tax on top of what they have already paid in the jurisdiction of whatever country their subsidiary operates in. so why would we tolerate a system like that? we have an opportunity to fix that. and if we fix that, then huge sums of money are going to come flooding back into the united states, and that's going to get invested here, and that's going to mean more businesses, new expansion, more hiring. that's going to be tremendously constructive for our economy, and going forward, we will eliminate this perverse incentive to have your multinational company headquartered anywhere but the united states, which is the case today. so in short, mr. president, this is our opportunity to begin to
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achieve the growth we have been waiting for. ever since the great recession, we have not had the kind of economic growth that used to be normal for america. a completely archaic, terribly unfair, ridiculously complicated tax code is part of the reason why. you might ask well, how did we used to have such strong growth with this tax code? well, the fact is most of the rest of the world has been about the business of improving their tax code while we have not. this is our moment, our opportunity to begin to catch up, and we could do it in a big way as long as we pass this budget and give ourselves the tool to do so. this budget resolution creates the opportunity to do tax reform. now, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have criticized the fact that we are setting up a process, we're using the budget resolution so that the subsequent tax reform can be passed with a simple majority vote in the senate.
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they have criticized that. they have suggested to varying degrees that somehow that leaves them out of the process. let me just be very clear, that is categorically untrue. the tax reform bill we're working on the ideas for this now, when we actually get to drafting the specifics, it's going to happen in the finance committee in the senate. it's going to happen in the ways and means committee in the house. it's going to be public. the documents are going to be disclosed before the markups begin. and it's going to be open to amendments. my democratic colleagues on the finance committee are going to be able to offer whatever amendments they like. they can work with us on shaping this. and i hope they will join us in voting for it. it's much better if we could end up passing this with a big bipartisan vote and a tax bill that absolutely does lower the direct tax burden on lower income and middle-class families and encourages more economic growth ought to be something that could be broadly supported. they will have every opportunity
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to weigh in. they will have every opportunity to amend it. and there is nothing about this procedure that in any way excludes democratic participation. what it does do, though, is it says we will not be held hostage by a minority that wishes to thwart this. we'll have the ability, if we can persuade at least 50 senators and a vice president who is so inclined in the chair, we'll have the ability to pass tax reform. i think it would be malpractice for us not to create the opportunity to do tax reform with a simple majority since we have that vehicle available to us, and i believe we're going to pass it today. another point i'd like to address is the discussion that somehow we're going to blow a hole in the deficit with this. it couldn't be further from the truth, in my view. what our budget resolution does is it allows the finance committee to report back a tax reform package that will by a
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very particular and very precisely defined process be deemed to enforcing owe 1 -- to forgo $1.5 trillion in federal revenue over the next ten years. when you look at that, you realize in all likelihood if we do this tax reform right, we'll reduce the size of the deficit over the next ten-year period, not increase it. why do i say that? it is misleading because it portends that the current policy that we have of the number of temporary tax relief measures is going to go away. in all likelihood congress routinely extends them. they will probably be extended. that is worth about $500 billion. what we're talking about $1 trillion less revenue over
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the next ten years and you have to keep in mind that is on a base of about $43 trillion. it's something on the order, call it 2.5% of projected federal revenue. so the question to ask, i think, is, how much extra economic growth will it take to fully offset $1 trillion worth of forgone revenue? that math is easy because the congressional budget office has quantified this. the answer is approximately four-tenth of 1% of economic growth in response to the pro-growth incentives that we want to put into the tax code will fullyoff set that -- fully offset that. congressional budget office projects that we will continue
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at 1.9%. if getting these reforms right, if lowering the tax burden on working families, if making our international and business tax codes competitive, if we do that right, i have absolutely no doubt we can generate much more than an additional four-tenth of 1% growth. we'll have an opportunity when we get the specifics, we'll have many analyses of just how much extra growth we will have, but in my view it's entirely -- it is extremely likely that we will significantly surpass the four-tenth of 1% of growth. the minority leader said this is a big tax cut for the wealthy. i will remind my colleagues we can have differences of opinions and we can have a debate here,
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and we will, but let's remember this tax reform bill is not written yet. the two big goals that i mentioned, i think are universally shared on our side of the aisle, tax relief for middle-class working families and pro-growth policies. we haven't -- we haven't written the details yet. we haven't established exactly what the brackets will be, exactly what the rates will be, where they will kick in, how the pass-through rates applies. there are issues that have to be worked out in committee which is the way that my colleagues suggested that we should do. because the product is not yet finished, it is not possible for anyone to say that x percent of this bill will go to a certain category of people. that is not knowable because the bill has not been finished yet. so, mr. president, i am thrilled
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about this opportunity that we are going to create this week to pass the tax reform later this year that will allow us to achieve the growth we've been waiting for, and that means allowing my constituents, pennsylvanians and people all across america to achieve the standard of living that they deserve, that they are working hard to achieve, and had that they will be able to enjoy. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: mr. president, i listened with interest to the senator from pennsylvania's comments and, as always, he was articulate and thoughtful and made a strong case. i would like to speak to the issue that we are going to be
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addressing over the next few days, the next few weeks and probably the next few months, not necessarily to be opposed, but to talk about how we can get where we all want to be, which is lower taxes, higher growth, and a stronger united states economy. i think it's important to emphasize at the beginning that, just so we all know, what we're talking about in the next couple of days isn't a budget. as the senator from pennsylvania noted, it is really a vehicle for a massive tax cut. my problem with the tax cut is not necessarily that we're going to have one, but the question is, how is it structured, who gets the benefits and how is it paid for? as the senator pointed out, we still don't know what the plan is. we have an outline, we have principles, we have bullet points, we have lists, but we don't have a plan, therefore it's difficult to analyze. but we do have some particulars
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that have been released and you don't need to be an economist to understand that if the rate for the lowest taxpayers is being increased and the rate for the highest taxpayers is being decreased, the overall effect will be loaded toward those at the upper-income level. the only analysis we have from the tax policy foundation is that under the plan as it has been described by the white house and by members of congress, about 80% of the benefits of this proposal go to the top 1% of wage earners in this country. 80% of the benefits goes to the top 1%. now, it may be that as this plan, its details are more well known and thoroughly described that we'll find it is slightly different than that. one of the things that really bothers me about this budget resolution that we're going to be voting on is that it
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explicitly waives a long-time budget rule that before you can vote on issues such as this there must be a congressional budget office score 28 hours prior to the vote. it waives that provision. that is not a good sign. that doesn't reassure me that we're going to have a clear idea of what we are voting on. as it looks to me now when you combine the cuts proposed to medicare and medicaid, which go into paying for these massive tax cuts, it looks to me like the biggest losers in this whole process will be seniors. when you look at how the -- what we know about the structure of the tax cuts and the fact that there is half a trillion dollar cut in medicare over the next ten years and a trillion and a half dollar cut in medicaid, seniors are going to take the
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most serious hit. why do i say that? we know that medicare specifically applies to seniors. that's pretty easy, if you're cutting medicare, you're hitting seniors. secondly, though, what people don't realize about medicaid is that 70% of the nursing home beds in america are paid for by medicaid. by definition, whose in those beds? seniors. so when you cut medicare and medicaid, you are going to be impacting seniors and the provisions of the tax -- the tax plan as we know it -- and i keep emphasizing as we know it because we're voting on something today to clear the path for a major tax cut, we don't know what it is, but it appears that it will impact seniors disproportionately. i want to touch on a couple of other points. one is the argument that the cuts to medicaid and medicare aren't really cuts, they are
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just reductions in growth. well, that argument applies if you're talking about the nasa budget, for example. if the nasa budget is projected to grow 5% a year and we cut it to 4% a year, that is a reduction in growth and we're going to do one less trip into space and whatever the policy outcome of that cut is. medicare and medicaid are different, however. they have to pay costs in the real world as they come up when necessary and the increased growth that's projected in those two programs is based upon two unalterable facts, one is demographics. we're getting older and that means more work, more demands on the medical system, but it also is based on medical inflation, which everyone knows in recent years has proven to be higher than the ordinary rate of
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inflation. this is the best projection we have, but if project that the current level of medical costs today, eight years from now or ten years from now, is going to cost what it costs today plus medical inflation plus the impact of medical demographics, if you cut that fewer people are going to get services, rural hospitals will close, there will be undeniable impacts on both the economy of our rural regions of the country and real people. so this argument that cuts to medicare and medicaid is just a cut in growth, it's not really a cut is just not true. that may be true in some areas, it is not true here because these are real costs that are going to be incurred and if the costs go up and fewer dollars are there to meet them
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somebody's going to get hurt. these are real cuts to real people. the other thing i want to touch on is the deficit and debt. i have to say i -- i'm sort of puzzled by this whole process because as i've been here over the past five years and as i lived my life over the past 25 years, the majority party in the senate has been focused on the debt and on the deficit and the dangers of the debt to our country, to our economy, and how bad it was that we were mortgaging our children's future and all of a sudden it's no big deal. all of a sudden it's0 kay to knowingly, -- okay to talk about a $1.35 trillion increase in the debt over the next ten years and that assumes the cuts to medicare and medicaid take place and that other cuts that are in
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the budget to exemptions and deductions take place, it could be the effect on the debt and deficit could be much greater. i remember two or three years ago when we were in a recession and people were trying to get jobs and we had millions of people unemployed, there was a motion to extend unemployment benefits for six months, i can't remember the costs, i think it was $5 billion or $6 billion, and oh, know, point of order. it will increase the deficit. we are talking about $1.5 trillion that we know of, but that's okay. what this is, and i think we really need to understand this, with if we pass unfunded tax cuts, they aren't really tax cuts. they are simply a deferral of the tax from us to our kids.
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we don't have to pay the tax but the money to be spent is still going to be spent so the hole gets deeper, we borrow that money and our kids and grandchildren will have to pay that back with interest. that's called shift and shaft, that's not a tax cut. we're shifting the tax and shafting our kids. it's as if on your deathbed you call your children over and say, i have some final words for you. and the kid leans over and says, here's my credit card bill, i had a wonderful trip to alg -- a wonderful vacation and you're going to pay for it. that's what it does. we are not going to pay for the trips that we think are important. i think there's another fact that needs to be realized here. as we build up this deaf it
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sit -- deficit and debt, eventually the bill will come due and because we've used up all of our resources, the only place to go to cut then is going to be social security and medicare because the discretionary budget is essentially going to be all gone. it's really simple to make the interest rate calculation. we now owe $20 trillion, 77% of our annual g.d.p. we owe. the interest rate calculation is 1%, $200 billion a year. when, and i think it's more of a question of when than if, when interest rates return to a more normal level of 5%, that's $1 trillion a year in interest, just interest. mr. president, that happens to be very close to the entire discretionary budget of the united states government,
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$1.1 trillion this year, defense and nondefense. we will be paying almost as much in interest as the entire discretionary budget. how are we going to manage that situation? the only way it can be managed is to start talking about social security and medicare. so this is a long distance, slow-motion diminution of the value of those programs that are so important to so many americans, and particularly senior americans. the final point i want to touch on is the senator from pennsylvania basically predicted don't worry, these tax cuts will pay for themselves. i have been hearing that all my adult life. i have never seen it work. it didn't work in the middle of the last decade during the bush tax cuts. all those tax cuts were going to pay for themselves. don't worry. the stimulus and the economic
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growth will be such that there will be more income, more revenues, and we will, in fact, as the senator said, reduce the deficit. the problem is there is no evidence that that's ever worked in the history of mankind. the best economic research i've seen says maybe the economic growth will offset about 20% of the cost of the tax cuts, but 80% is going to go straight to the debt. and to make the assumption that somehow this is all going to pay for itself i believe is irresponsible. now, i have a modest suggestion to those who are making that argument. will you accept a friendly amendment that says if the growth does not occur, then the taxes or certain taxes are automatically retriggered in order to fill the gap. if you're right, that will never need to happen, but if you're not right, that will protect our
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kids. i think that's a reasonable solution. i don't think it's going to happen. why? because it hasn't happened. it hasn't happened in kansas. it hasn't happened here. i've never seen it happen, and i have looked at the economic research. as near as i can tell, there is no data that indicates an automatic correlation between tax cuts and economic growth. i suspect there are tax cuts that can stimulate economic growth. it depends on where they are and what they are, but tax cuts generally there is no evidence that that's the case. so those of our membership that believe that this rosy scenario, the temptress rosy scenario is going to occur, fine, but if it doesn't, let's put language in the whole tax program that says insofar as the growth does not occur as projected, the deficit will be maintained at no worse
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than current levels by automatically triggering tax increases to fill the gap. then we're being honest. then we're being honest to the next generation. i believe that there are important areas where tax cuts are necessary in order to make us more competitive, in order to help grow our economy, but i don't think that what i have heard so far is the answer, and there are many problems with what has been described. i'm willing to hold my fire and see what the finance committee comes up with and see whether, as the senator from pennsylvania said, it will be an open and bipartisan process with amendments. if that's the case, we, i think, could come up on a bipartisan basis with a reasonable tax change, tax cuts, tax reform
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that will strengthen our economy, without adding to the deficit and without requiring massive cuts to programs such as medicaid and medicare that are so important to millions of americans. it can be done right. in 1986, it was done right. that was true tax reform. that was the last time we did tax reform, and i think it's very interesting that over the last several months, the language that describes what we're about to do has migrated from tax reform to tax cuts. tax reform means you change the tax code, get rid of the inefficiencies, simplify it, take away some exemptions and deductions, lower rates, but you end up revenue neutral and you have a stronger economic base from which to proceed. tax cuts simply add to the deficit or are based upon unrealistic and indeed cruel
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cuts to people in the future. i think we do have an opportunity to do this right. i think there is more consensus here than perhaps people realize on the question of doing tax reform in a way that will benefit the entire country. i don't think the members on this side of the aisle are categorically opposed to tax cuts under any circumstances. when i was the governor of maine, we cut taxes -- i can't remember -- ten or 15 times, overall about 15%. we cut the income tax, we cut the sales tax, we cut the property tax, so it can be done, and that was in a bipartisan basis with the legislature that wept back and forth between republican and democratic control. they had this sort of strange, independent governor, but we made that work. it can be done and it can be done on a bipartisan basis, but it certainly looks like this is about to be railroaded.
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it's about to be shoved down our throat without adequate analysis, without fully understanding it. i deeply hope that that's not the case. i hope we learn something from health care, that we can do good things when we work together. when we don't, it rarely ends well. so i understand that the votes are probably there to pass this budget, but the real question will come what happens next? what does the plan look like? how responsible is it? what kind of assumption is it based on? what kind of analysis does the joint taxation committee and the congressional budget office provide us on a nonpartisan basis as to what it will really do? then we can have a real debate. then we can talk about what's best for america. and i think between the group of us that work here and down the hall, we can find a good solution, but a solution that's
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thrust upon us, if it's ill-conceived, if it's skewed toward the wealthy, if it balances the budgets on the backs of seniors and medicare and medicaid recipients, if it's based upon unrealistic assumptions about growth, then we're going to harm our country, not help it, because eventually if we keep going down the road that we're going, in terms of the national debt, the piper will have to be paid. it may not have to be paid by our generation, but it's going to have to be paid by these young people and by their peers all across america. i don't think that's right. that's not the legacy i came here to leave to my children and grandchildren. thank you, mr. president. i look forward to working with my colleagues to find a path forward that's responsible and responsive to the needs of the american people. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. let me say that i will be brief, but i have a concern, and it should be a matter of concern to all americans. when new presidents are elected, they have always been given the opportunity to put their team in place in short order. now, regrettably, this has not been allowed to happen for this new president in this congress, and here are the facts. now nine months in office, president trump has had only 182 of his nominees confirmed. that is an unacceptable, unprecedented 39%. it is a low statistic, grossly
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low statistic by historical standards. at this point in president obama's administration, 65% of his nominees had been confirmed. at this point in george w. bush's administration, 53% had been confirmed. under bill clinton, 76% had been confirmed. and under president george h.w. bush, 75%. and yet because of delaying tactics by our colleagues across the aisle, this president who needs a team in place, as every president has done, has only 39% of his nominees in office. this has been done through an abuse of the process by our friends across the aisle, a distortion of the rules requiring cloture on
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noncontroversial nominees, requiring well-qualified nominees to be subjected to a 30-hour debating period for a motion to proceed, and another 30-hour debating period typically where there's only silence on the floor of the senate for the actual confirmation. now, this is inconvenient to the administration, but it's injurious to the american people. with more than a thousand executive positions needing confirmation, we need these people in place. the american people need these people in place. to work for the american people, providing hurricane relief. there are people who would be part of the administration working on that had we not had these delaying tactics. critical national security positions. people who are fighting against isis are waiting for
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confirmation. people who would be part -- a key part of the counterterrorism efforts are waiting for months to get work. now, we had a spate of this in july, and i was one of several senators who called on the leadership to just keep us in session in august to take care of some of these, and it -- we demonstrated by the action of the majority leader that by canceling part of the august break, we could break logjams. as of the end of july, we only had 56 trump nominees confirmed. by keeping us in session for one extra week and taking away our work period back home, we confirmed 76 nominees in one week, as opposed to 56 the
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previous six months of this year. we can do that again, and i can simply say to you, mr. president, and to my colleagues on this side of the aisle and on the other side of the aisle. i am among those calling on the majority leader once again to adopt an aggressive schedule that includes working all night, that includes working weekends, includes canceling some breaks. we need once again to break this logjam. the american people spoke in november, and through our democratic process, they elected donald trump as president of the united states. he deserves the same consideration from minority members of the current senate that previous presidents, democrat and republican, got
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from minority members of the senate. free the process up, eliminate the distortion of the rules. let's have a more aggressive schedule, and let's once again break this logjam. and i yield the floor.
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask unanimous consent that my intern be granted privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. our nation was founded on a principle encapsulated in the first three and most important words of our constitution -- we the people. our founders wanted to have a nation that didn't work for the benefit of the powerful and the privileged, but for decisions by the people, for the people, as president lincoln so eloquently described our nation. not a nation by and for the powerful, not a nation by and
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for the privileged, but by and for the people. tomorrow, a bill is coming to the floor that couldn't be more of a buy and for the powerful bill than we have seen on the floor of the senate before. a bill completely contrary, the fundamental values embedded in our constitution. now, this bill is a budget bill, and at its heart it says we're going to do $5 trillion of tax cuts almost completely for the richest americans, and we're going to do so by gutting programs that make america work for working americans. now, the president said when it comes to tax reform, i want to help the middle class. i'm not going to do anything for the rich and powerful. then why, i ask you, is this
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bill coming to the floor of the senate completely for the rich and powerful? president trump, come before the american people. explain how you can make a promise that you're going to do tax reform for the middle class, and you put a bill on the floor of the senate that is all about benefits, raiding the national treasury for the rich and powerful. how do you explain this complete opposite? what a complete pretense we have to say that this bill is about helping american workers when it's all about the rich and powerful. the republican budget plan not only has five-plus trillion dollars virtually all in giveaways for the rich and powerful, but it proceeds to cut health care for older americans, a cut of $1 trillion in medicaid
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no working americans. now, that's a whole lot of damage done to ordinary americans who just want peace of mind, that when their loved one gets sick, when their loved one gets injured, they'll get the care they need. it's peace of mind -- is peace of mind too much to ask from our national health care system? are my colleagues so callous, so out of touch, so cruel that they want to fund tax cuts for the richest americans by destroying health care, diminishing health care for our seniors? and not just our seniors but our citizens on medicaid in oregon, that's the oregon health plan. it serves the poorest among us.
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many of them working part time jobs that have no health care plan. many of them working shifts that are determined at the last second, some of the most stressful jobs in america are at the very bottom, some of the most stressful work schedules are at the very bottom, and we're going to cut not just a trillion -- a trillion dollars for medicaid and half a trillion from medicare. wow. and then let's look at the other programs that would be devastated by this republican budget in order to fund that $5 trillion in tax cuts almost all for the wealthiest americans. the senate budget committee democratic staff said if those cuts in the republican budget are extended evenly, distributed reductions, it would have the following impact. it would eliminate housing assistance for more than a million families. it would eliminate heating assistance for nearly 700,000
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seniors on fixed incomes. it would eliminate nutrition assistance by more than $100 billion, a 33% cut. in other words, translate that, a lot more hunger in an already hungry america. it would slash pell grant funding by more than $100 million, eliminate head start services for 25,000 children in an average year, cut mandatory transportation funding by $200 billion, cut funding for the national institutes of health by $37 billion all to give a massive tax giveaway to the richest americans. now, if the president is proceeding to say that this is a plan for the middle class, then you would expect virtually all the benefit to go to the middle
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class. but what do we actually have? four out of -- $4 out of $5 benefits go to the top 1% and half of that, 40% goes to the top one-tenth of 1%. why should there be one single penny going to the very richest americans in a nation in which we should be striving for a foundation for every family to thrive? and we know that to thrive, our children have to have food to eat. we need to have health care programs that create peace of mind. we need to make sure our seniors have a strong foundation in their retirement. but instead we see all those programs, including the opportunity for college through pell grants, being raided for this massive give away to the top 1%. president trump, come before the
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american people and explain how it's possible that you can claim you're doing a plan for middle class america and you're sending virtually the entire benefit to the top 1% of americans. this budget resolution, associated tax plan, it's one of the most egregious examples of rigging the system of america for the powerful and privileged rather than government of, by, and for the people. well, i'm here today to stand up and say not one penny to the top 1%. if you want a fair plan for america, it would be not one penny for the top 1%. if you want to strengthen the middle class, there would be not one penny to the top 1%. not one penny for billionaires
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while we gut medicare and medicaid. not one penny for billionaires when middle-class families' taxes would go up under this plan. not one penny for our billionaires while we destroy programs and safety nets and opportunities for education from headstart to pell grants to atteolle. we could do a great deal of good to invest in america. we could invest in transportation. we have an incredible number of bridges and roads that need repairs. we can put an incredible number of people to work building middle class jobs and middle class incomes through building infrastructure instead of a giveaway o of the national treasury to the top 1%. by investing more than a trillion, we can create millions
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of good-paying american jobs. more than 56,000 bridges in america, one out of 11, is structurally deficient. engineers estimate we could easily spend $123 billion on repairing bridges and $420 billion modernizing highways, and that we get a return back to our economy with lower vehicle maintenance, decreased delays, lowered fuel consumption, improved safety, lower long-term maintenance costs and lower emissions, all benefits of investing in transportation in addition to the fact that it strengthens our economy. we can think about the investment we need to have in our water infrastructure. the water supply systems. and certainly the wastewater treatment, a problem in virtually every town across america. what about all those lead pipes that need to be replaced? 2,000 years ago, the romans were poisoned by their own water because they lined their
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aquaducts with lead. and here we are 20 centuries later poisoning our citizens with lead pipes. why aren't we spending money to take care of that problem? and it's not just a problem in flint. it's a problem in hundreds of cities across this country. and if we want america to thrive, why not invest in rural broadband? why not create high speed broadband in every rural town and village across this nation that strengthens that economy, that gives people the ability to build their businesses in smal smalltown rural america instead of spending trillions of dollars in tax giveaways to the very richest americans? how about an investment in our students, not decreasing pell grants, strengthening pell grants to make it possible for more people to attend college without ending up with a debt
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the size of a home mortgage. it's a real possibility to create debt-free college at our public universities. why don't we do that? that will strengthen the foundation for every family to thrive. good jobs, good education, good infrastructure, not the theft from the american treasury of $4 trillion to $5 trillion for the very richest americans. that's what's being proposed here. has there ever been a train robbery as audacious as this theft of the national treasury for the richest americans? has there ever been a bank robbery as audacious and outrageous as this theft of the american treasury for the richest 1% of americans? here on the floor, we should be wrestling with how to create a foundation for every family in america to thrive, not considering a bill that wipes out health care, wipes out pell
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grants, does damage to every conceivable thing that would make this nation stronger in order to give the billionaires more zeros in their bank accounts. this bill is destructive. it's shameful. and it's contrary to the very principle of our constitution of government of, by, and for the people. this bill is government of, by, and for the 1%. it must not stand. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: thank you, mr. president. i'm really happy the senate is engaged in this debate on tax policy. it actually is long overdue. it's been 30 some odd years since this country's undertaken a massive reform of our tax code, and it's interesting to go back and think what life was
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like back in 1986. it was just a different planet, different world, different economics. and so at a minimum, our code needs to be modernized. but everybody has run on that. everybody who runs for office, certainly every candidate for president from both parties over two decade has run on the promise of tax reform and the need for it. so this is a really important debate. and so people understand who are watching at home, the budget is not -- you and i at home think of a budget as something you're going to spend money on. that's -- it's a framework under the parameters the government would spend its money. then you have to go out and actually spend it through a separate process called appropriations. so this budget creates the framework of how we're going to spend money in the year to come, and then it's going to be used as a vehicle to pass tax reform, which is obviously the way and the system under which we generate revenue for the government to pay for the things that we need to be paying for. that's the first debate. but obviously the debate on the
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budget has already led us to this debate on tax reform because that's the purpose, that's the primary purpose it's being used for this year as a vehicle for it. why does that matter? there's a lot of speeches already on tax reform and how bad the bill is and this is a giveaway for this group of people or that group of people. that's hard to do because there's still not a bill. the reason there's still not a bill is it's going to be worked through the normal process of the senate. that was the criticism, for example, from my friends on the other side and many outside of this building and the press. the criticism was you guys put together a health care plan and you didn't even go through committee and no one had any input. there were no public hearings. that's what they're going to do with tax reform and that's what's going to produce a bill. the only thing put out is a framework and it basically says these are some of the ideas we have. this is our starting point that we want to operate from. but we're going to go through the committee process and there's going to be votes and and opportunity to weigh in and make differences. if that we intend to produce a
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tax bill. and so you can criticize the framework, i suppose, but to basically go out and start trying to convince people that there's a tax bill that will do this versus that when it's just not true and when you have a seat here in the senate and potentially on the committee where you can actually weigh in about the specifics of what's going to be in the bill and what's not, i think it's unfair and disingenuous. in any event, that's kind of the way things go nowadays. i look forward to that debate. the second thing that's been an interesting development is to hear people talking about how horrible this is going to be. this is going to add to the debt and all of a sudden a bunch of people who never had any problem spending as much money as they possibly could out of the federal treasury are suddenly becoming deficit hawks. here's what's so interesting. if we were to turn around and say forget about tax reform. we'll take $1.5 trillion the next ten years and use it, debt spending -- we're going to borrow and fund all the things the government is going to do for example, one of our
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colleagues has offered a plan to provide health care for everyone in america paid for by the federal government. that would cost tens of trillions of dollars ove. over a dozen members of the senate have signed on to it as a plan. there's no plan to pay for it. not $1.5 trillion like the tens of trillions over the next dozen years. a lot of concern there. it kind of boils down to we're prepared to spend it but if this is money we're going to take and give it to you to spend, that's a real problem and irresponsible. that's kind 6 the framework. the second point i would make on the debt is i believe the debt is a significant threat to the future of the united states. the problem is we can't tax our way out of it and we can't simply grow our way out of it. we have to do a combination of things. the first is we have to grow our economy, and the second thing we have to do is bring some constraint to future spending. not slash medicare, not get rid of social security. my mother is on social security and medicare.

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