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tv   U.S. Senate 11152017  CSPAN  November 16, 2017 5:38am-5:59am EST

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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with . the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, the republican tax plan, even before yesterday, would exacerbate income inequality at a time when it is also spiraling out of control, helping the rich get richer, big corporations get bigger, while the middle class is left stuck in neutral. many of -- many middle-class would wind up paying higher taxes at the end of the day, 20 million in 2027 under the senate plan. that's the wrong approach for our economy. it betrays the american worker and the american family who deserve tax relief because it
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concentrates more of our country's wealth at the very top, just what the american people don't want, but so many of those who fund the republican party do. for most of my colleagues and most of the american people, that's reason enough to oppose the bill, and the american people do, by large numbers. but yesterday republicans made two last-minute changes to their bill that make it even worse. first, republicans decided to throw the mother of all monkey wrenches into the bill, repealing the individual mandate. my friend, the majority leader, called this provision helpful to the bill because it raises revenue. i'd remind him, and all of my republican colleagues, that the nonpartisan congressional budget office said it would lead to 15 million fewer americans with health insurance. so we're kicking 13 million people off of health insurance
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to give tax cuts to the wealthy. also, according to c.b.o., it would lead to a 10% increase in premiums. each year there would be 10% higher than they otherwise would be. so our republican bill says, raise the premiums on average americans health care by 10% so we can give the wealthy a tax cut. this is the same thing they did in the health care bill until the public outrage forced them to back off and, of course, it lost, and they are doing it again because the republican belief is reduce the health care safety net for middle-class americans so they can give more tax cuts to the wealthiest and most powerful amongst us. younger, healthier people, if republicans had their plan, would flee the market. if you're 50 to 64, this is very
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bad news for you. that's why the aarp is against this bill, and yesterday denounced the new change. i'd remind my republican colleagues that the provision raises 40$0 billion in revenues because it throws americans off insurance. $179 billion is saved because people wouldn't sign up for medicaid. so the republican bill takes $400 billion out of help for health care and gives it to the wealthy and powerful for even more tax breaks. does any american support that? a handful, maybe. but it seems a lot of people in this chamber might. so when the republicans say this provision in their bill is helpful, they don't mean it's helpful to americans. it may help republicans in the senate give a larger tax break
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to the rich, but it hurts millions of americans seeking affordable health insurance. many will lose insurance. many more will pay an increase in their premiums while our colleagues have always promised to make premiums lower. now one other point. i've heard some on the other side say they'd be willing to pass the bipartisan alexander-murray compromise as a salve athey repeal the individual mandate. i'm here to tell my colleagues that won't work. you don't attempt to blow up the health care system and then say we're going to make a few tweaks to make it better. we're not falling for that. you shouldn't either, my republican friends. they're completely contradictory ideas. alexander-murray is meant to stabilize markets and lower premiums. the republican plan destabilizes markets and raises premiums.
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in a way, that alexander-murray could never repair. furthermore, alexander-murray would not survive under the rules of reconciliation. too many of its provisions are under the help committee, not the finance committee. so anyone who thinks they can justify the changes that the majority leader has said he will put in the bill by saying okay, we'll then pass murray-alexander, it's wrong on the substance and wrong on the politics because it won't pass. at that point when it was negotiated, alexander-murray was -- when alexander-murray was negotiated, it was in good faith by the chairman and ranking member of the help committee as a compromise health care bill. the republicans cannot expect to pass their own separate ideological health care provision and then turn around and ask democrats to vote to pass murray-alexander.
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again, you can't create major injury to the health care system and hurt millions and then say please give us a band-aid. that's not what's going to happen. that's not the right thing to do. any republican senator who thinks they can pass the individual mandate and then turn around and get murray-alexander passed is dead wrong. it's clear that the dark trade-off at the center of the republican policy agenda is back. cutting health care in order to fund tax giveaways to the very wealthy and very powerful. democrats won't go for it. so that's one reason this provision is a bad one. the second change that the republicans made to their tax bill was to have -- or this is the second problem with the changes the republicans have offered. the second change the republicans made to their tax
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bill was to have many of their tax provisions for individuals expire while corporate breaks remain permanent. with this new proposal, republicans have put themselves between a rock and a hard place. the provisions for individuals that help individuals and not enough of them were helped -- middle-class folks -- expire by 2025. the corporate tax cuts to the wealthiest of corporations above all are permanent. why did our colleagues do this? well, for one, they favor the big corporate powerful interests over the middle class. but the second is they had a huge deficit problem. they had to figure out where to reduce the deficit. and so they took it out on the crumbs that they gave to the middle class in the earlier years in this bill. well, one of two things will happen.
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some of our republican colleagues say don't worry, we'll extend the middle-class tax cuts after 2025. that will create a huge deficit. so i say to my colleagues, particularly the deficit hawks, you can't have it both ways. you cannot say we're going to protect the middle class after 2025 and we're going to reduce the deficit. this bill is a deficit budget buster. we all know what will happen. we all know that the deficit will skyrocket after 2025. and so we can't allow the sort of tricks that are put into this bill to dissuade us from the fact that this bill dramatically will increase the deficit. so there are two problems with
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this tax bill. one is inside the confines of the bill and one is with the public after the bill passes should it pass, which i think it won't. inside the bill, as i mentioned, republicans are stuck between raising taxes on millions of middle-class families or busting the deficit. there is no choice. you can't have it both ways. the bill is a dramatic, dramatic -- dramatic, dramatic exposition of being between a rock and a hard place. two choices the bill gives people: raise taxes on the middle class or dramatically increase the deficit. but outside the bill with the public, the republicans have a dilemma as well. if they pass -- if they don't pass the bill, they lech
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feckless and -- they look feckless and unable to govern and that's what's moat vague most of my -- motivating most of my colleagues but if they pass the bill there will be public outrage and they'll pay a real price in 2018. they know it. outside the bill republicans have two bad choices too. outside the confines of the bill, in the broad brush strokes, our republican colleagues can fail to pass the bill and look unable to govern. or they can pass the bill, dramatically unpopular, and pay a price at the polls. these are not enviable choices. they are a gordian knot that my republican friends will not be able to slip out of. if they pull on one part of the knot, they tighten another part of it. now the reason that my colleagues are caught in this lose-lose situation is that they've elected time and time again toes -- again to eschew
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bipartisanship. voting legislation with the votes of one party is divisive and demanding. a small number, say the freedom caucus, can demand all the tax breaks go to the very wealthy or they won't vote for the bill. that gives the rest of the republicans a difficult choice. hurt the middle class or blow a hole in the deficit. on the other hand, if our republican colleagues had worked with us, that freedom caucus would have no say. they wouldn't have the votes to kill the bill because there would be lots of democratic support. passing legislation of this magnitude with votes of only one party is divisive and demanding. it is meant that republicans have produced legislation that appeals to only a small number of americans and probably in their heart of hearts, even a minority of republicans.
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we are a fiercely divided country. legislation that's crafted to appease the extremes of only one political party is never going to be broadly popular with the american people. and, frankly, won't work. that's why we should pursue bipartisan legislation. both parties accepting the credit of success and the blame of failure. the american people are clamoring for us to work together in such a fashion. and working together doesn't mean a bill crafted behind closed doors under reconciliation which basically says to democrats take a hike, we don't need you. so i say to my republican friends there's a way out of this mess, and it's simple. reject your faustian bargains and come to work with democrats on a real bipartisan reform bill. you won't have to choose between blowing up the deficit and hurting the middle class. you won't have to choose between unpopular legislation and
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legislative failure. just like alexander-murray proved, we can produce legislation on the thorniest of issues that will receive bipartisan support and prove the condition -- and improve the condition of working and middle-class americans. why don't we give this a try on tax reform as well because the choices you're giving yourself now you will regret. i yield the floor a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be ended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: so, mr. president, i'm glad that you're here to replace me as the presiding officer of the senate. i spent the last hour presiding myself. for those of you in the gallery, who don't know these things, i'll pull back the curtain a little bit. they call it presiding officer duty, not privilege or honor because it's reserved for the young senators who are new to the senate, like senator sullivan and i. but also means that you actually have to listen to your
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colleagues' speeches which doesn't happen very often around here anymore. so this morning i had the privilege of listening to the democratic leader's speech about our tax bill and the fact that we are going to repeal the hated mandate of obamacare as part of this tax bill. i just can't let stand what he said without correcting the record. first off, the senator from new york said that we're injecting health care into the tax bill, injecting health care into the tax bill. i would remind him and all the other democrats who have been denouncing this decision on the senate finance committee that the individual mandate is a tax according not to me, not to republicans but to the obama administration. that is what they argued in 2012 to the supreme court, even though he contended throughout the debate on obamacare in 2009 and 2010 that it wasn't a tax. in 2012 they argued to the supreme court that the obamacare mandate is a tax and the supreme court in 2012 upheld it as a
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tax. mr. cotton: and i'm willing to bet, i'm willing to bet that the democratic leader issued a statement in the summer 2012 applauding that decision, which held the individual mandate as a tax. after all, it's collected on your 2040. -- 1040. it's collected by the i.r.s. it doesn't get more taxi than that -- taxy than that. the claim that 13 million americans will lose their insurance -- lose their insurance if we repeal the mandate, well, two-thirds of the american people want us to repeal the mandate so they must be up to something. and second, let's just think about what the mandate repeal does. it doesn't cut a single dime out of medicaid. it doesn't cut a single dime out of insurance subsidies for people on the exchanges and it doesn't change a single regulation of obamacare. all it says is the i.r.s. cannot fine you for being unable to afford the insurance that obamacare made unaffordable in the first place.
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that's right. today if you cannot afford your insurance because obamacare made it unaffordable, the i.r.s. will fine you and your family up to $2,000 a year and that number goes up every year. let me tell you, more than five out of six households who pay that fine make less than the median income in this country. that's right. that is a direct tax on working families and poor people because they can't afford the insurance that obamacare made unaffordable. in arkansas, that's over 55,000 families who already have to go with the insecurity in the financial -- and the financial hardship of not having health insurance who then have to pay a fine to the i.r.s. that's why two thirpds of the american -- two-thirds of the american people have wanted us to repeal the individual mandate of obamacare since the very day that that law was passed. and that's why we are about to finally repeal that mandate. and in the meantime, it's going
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to pay for more tax relief for working class families. we're going to be able to bring rates down for all of our families, preserve more popular or widely-used deductions or credit, to help people make ends meet, like the home mortgage interest deduction credit or help them to be more charitable to the local charities. help them set off the property or income tax, all because we're going to repeal the hated obamacare mandate. so i know the democrats are in high dungeon these days. turn on c-span if you don't have anything better to do and watch the senate finance committee and they'll say oh, we're injecting health care into the tax bill. 13 million people are going to lose their insurance. what we are doing is repealing the most hated tax of obamacare and giving the american people the freedom to choose insurance that is right for them without being threatened by a fine from
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the i.r.s. if that insurance doesn't meet some washington bureaucrat's definite -- definition of what is suitable. that's why two-thirds of the american people support the repeal of the individual mandate, and that's why when we repeal it, the american people are going to have a big victory notwithstanding anything said by the democratic leader or any other democratic senator. so, mr. president, i yield my time. have fun during presiding officer duty. i
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