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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 17, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EST

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private sector. it happens when cities become insolvent. puerto rico is complicated. there is 18 different series of debt. they could be in court from five to ten years with litigation. i don't think the economy could recover. there won't be an economy to talk about. >> if it was good enough -- >> crisis -- >> if it was good enough for trump, it's good enough for the people of puerto rico. >> i'll leave the comparisons for others. 3.5 million americans in chaos. >> let me ask you very briefly, chapter nine authority opened to municipalities, that doesn't -- >> it doesn't really work. it addresses about a third of the debt. >> with large debt payments due in may and july, isn't there going to be a point where we will face the consequences if we continue to delay an act? >> you know, they have only
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managed to be in default on small bond issues by doing things almost unthinkable in terms of financial management. when you talk about prematurely emptying out pension funds to pay bondholders, that is not something you do if you're not already bankrupt. when you talk about taking money dedicated to one bondholder and shift it to pay another bondholder, that can't go on for very long. i can't tell you at what point they run out of those extraordinary and very unhealthy kinds of tools but it can't go on forever and restructuring authority has to be in place enough in advance to restructure to meet may and july as they come. so i think the first quarter is a meaningful period if the deadline, the speak et set for the house to act is very important.
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we are willing to work with everyone and anyone that approaches us with the intention of solving the problem. we know that there is going to have to be oversight with restructuring. i do believe doing something on the medicate reimbursement is important but i totally agree with you without restructuring, there is not a solution. >> mr. chairman, there is a fierce urgency of now on this issue and i just don't get the sense that many of my colleagues understand that and i hope we can awaken them to that fierce urgency of now and the rights that 3.5 million american citizens have and would have if they were living here in the united states. it's just fundamentally wrong and so you ask people to shed their blood, risk their lives and can't treat them with the same dignity and respect they would have here on the mainland. something is fundamentally wrong about that.
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i hope we can -- i hope we can prick the conscience of the senate to move on this issue, mr. chairman because this is really consequential to millions of people. >> you raise aid lot of good points and to be honest, we're in the process of doing that. i'm going to come up with a different bill than the one we filed which would do the job to a large degree or get us started on it in time to do it even more thoroughly. i hope i can enlist your support when we finally get this -- there is no politics as far as i'm concerned. i want to get it done, and --
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>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i wanted to throw in with the words of the 3.5 million citizens of puerto rico, again, emphasizing these are american citizens and should be done quickly and the fierce urgency of now. thank you for that work you're doing. i have in my state, lorraine had a higher percentage of puerto rican s than any city in the world. 500 came to lorraine to work in u.s. steel and their girlfriends and families followed. some are still very connected to the island of puerto rico as american citizens. i want to talk for a moment, mr. secretary, about something this committee did, mr. chairman so very, very important. part of the bipartisan package we made permanent the temporary extensions of the earned income tax credit and child tax credit,
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whether measured in terms of the additional money they have earned in low income families' pockets. this is the largest anti poverty advance since the 1993 budget act saved the affordable care act. other than the affordable care act, what this committee did last year on the itc and ctc was the most important anti poverty advance that this country had. i want to focus on the earned income tax credit in 2013 the most recent year for which complete, 6.2 million people were lifted out of poverty. half were children. worker whose don't claim children are the only workers who can be taxed more deeply into poverty, which is ironic considering we brag about rewarding work and when we make
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our speeches around here. it's wrong, nobody who works full-time should live in poverty that is a fundamental -- should be a fundamental american value and i think is. 44 of -- 43 of my colleagues and i including many of us introduced a proposal to correct the problem. speaker ryan offered similar propels as has administration. give us thoughts, if you would, on the proposal, the need it would address and particularly, the impact on the economy. >> i agree with your assessment of the significance of making the refundable credits permanent. there is nothing more important we could have done to deal with poverty in the country and create an incentive to work, which is why there is historically bipartisan support. i think that there ought to be a way to work in a bipartisan way to get something done. i talked to speaker ryan and since about this many times. the president as has been reported.
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i think that this is an area where if we could put some other issues aside and concentrate, we could create a model for how you deal with problems of shared that help deal with inequity and help people get back into the work force. if you tax people back into poverty, you can't complain people aren't becoming part of the work force. it's not -- one of the reasons the itc was created was to make work pay and make it so people wouldn't have this proverse tax ization of going to work at low wages. i don't know there is more elaborate economic response. i think you put a pretty accurate point on it if you have a tax that's taxes people into
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poverty, it's not a good tax. and if you have a solution, it is one that there ought to be bipartisan support for because everybody supports work and the earned income tax credit was created in a administration and budget agreements for many decades that i've been involved with. i hope this can be the next chapter and do it this year. >> senator bennett. >> thank you so much for your leadership and service over so many years. i want to start with an unrelated issue, whether you can describe for the committee we
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got a vote on the customs bill and whether you could describe the enforcement provisions in that bill and their importance. >> yes, senator, thank you. i think that the enforcement provisions are very important because while it is critically important to have creative agreements that open borders for free trade, it's equally important that we have meaningful tools to enforce fair trade and that we use those tools. i mean, anti dumping, duties are important tools and, you know, the customs conference report comes, you know, after we've taken some action at the end of last year where we added to the resources we have in our departments to implement the anti dumping and counter vailing duty laws. now when the conference report on customs is passed, will there be another round of enforcement tools?
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it would give -- it would create accountability for future administrations, this administration and future administrations for the prosecution of cases of duty evasion. the bill creates deadlines by which the customs and border patrol have to notify you of actions taken to investigate allegations. it gives the border patrol extra tools to protect property. it stream lines operations that facilitate the flow of legitimate trade and it gives us tools on an issue that you had helped to craft to bring currency issues into sharp focus so we can be even more effective pushing back on any unfair practices in that area. >> appreciate your help on that provision. i wanted to go back to senator was talking about. because we are at the moment cutting across the board, cutting defense spending. and americans and that certainly
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simultaneously we've now had $19 trillion of debt on the balance sheet which from the point of view of the next generation of americans as a combination is toxic. i wonder, i'd like to give the opportunity to tell us what issue you give your successor for how they could lead this congress in a bipartisan way to actually begin balance. that we are prosing to place on the next generation of americans. the time has come to get this work done. what's your advice. >> whoever takes my place will
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be coming into a very different situation than my predecessor and you were the budget director. >> the deficit 10% climbing the debt would cross. we had a full blown crisis. steady economy, we have to start moving toward deficit reduction both economy recovery and we're delivering we got the deficit below 3% of gdp and rejections of the deficit and around 75% of gdp. a hockey stick going off. whoever takes my situation where, you know, hoeflfully it's long term and you can say ten
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years down the road where do we want to be? it's a blueprint. for how how to think about it ch we've got to invets in the short and medium term to get the economy to where it has a chance to get people a future. i think to have a debate about what to do about long-term entitlements would be a different debate if we could turn the corner. so many people feel left out of the today. what do we do when there is real needs, real needs of education and training and research that we're not meeting. we got to fill that space.
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the budget agreement give us a period of time. the budget lays out ideas, let's get progress done on the ones we can agree on and whoever comes in will hopefully be able to take the debate forward. it's not a debate that begins and ends. it goes on. as i said to senator thoon, we have to be realistic about the mix of revenue and ending is. when we balance the budget in the 1990s and ran a surplus, we had 20% of gdp revenues. that was consistent with running what was projected to be a $5.5 trillion surplus the day i left office. if you're looking at a period now where we have the baby boom retiring. it shouldn't be as a surprise to anyone that the demographics are rougher. when my generation was born, everybody knew 65 years later, people were going to be 65.
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that's not a surprise. what we could have done in the 2010 period is carry forward the fiscal position we were in in 2001. we didn't do that. then we had a financial crisis and a recession but we're now in a more stable place so i actually think it is -- if we can make progress on the short and medium term. we have to work towards politics and permits the kind of civil debate to deal with issues in a bipartisan basis. >> thank you senator casing. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll be -- i'll just brief because i have to run. i want to commend you for your public service. now this is your third or fourth chapter significant public service and we're grateful it's a hard job in any environment but especially the current climate in washington so we command you.
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i was talking to you earlier today about an issue i think, i know you work on every day in the administration does as well and enough attention. the strategy to focus on terrorism financing or our efforts to cut off financing to terrorists and especially now the challenge that isis presents. i guess i'd ask about the current efforts. and if there is anything you hope we would do in addition to the, you can't be tough on terrorism and not talk adam sooben, so unless than putting an important commercial or focus on adam, whom we should confirm, just give us kind of an update on what's going well, cut lg office is financing and what more we can do. >> i appreciate your calling
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attention to the urgent need to confirm the secretary for this critical responsibility our world dealing with financing and we have to provide information to countries, we should have it under secretary is confirmed to do the job asfectively and your support. let he give you a little background of current state of where we are in the counter aisle of in terms, isil involved over the last couple years. they started by concurring bank vaults. they developed oil resources and ex portion taxes and to goat renewable work with the close 90 branchs of banks and isil territory. we worked with our military and in their control. we worked to close the resources so that it's much harder if not
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impossible to sell that, the trade with syria in particularly and when you look at what we're doing now in terms of title wave two, we're not just striking the refineries, we're striking at the oil tanker trucks which they use to move the oil to the border and been working with the government to shut down into the system and retirees who aren't getting because they live in isil control territory. these things are very hard on the non-isil people and towards funding. i can't say that we're done. they are always evolving but what they have done is grown so that they need they can't continue to grow. we're striking at the oil tanker trucks which they used to move
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the oil to the border. we've work wd the government of iraq to shut down payments into the system, so there are employees and retirees who aren't get iting paid because ty live in isil controlled territory. it's what you have to do is deprive them of an evergreen source of funding. now, i can't say that we're done. they are, there are always evolving, but what they have also done is grown so that they need more money than they can raise and that means they can't continue to grow and we have to keep cutting back on their sources of renewable funding. make it harder and harder for them to grow and force them to shrink. there are other military efforts, but i'm talk about what we can do on the finance side. and the first time in history the finance ministers from around the world met in the security counsel and together with russia we sponsored -- i sponsored a resolution that had the whole world and sanctions. we have an aggressive effort. and keep their financial flows
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up to their needs. we've turned to hard to stay where they are. and powerful tools to do it. it's a different entity. there is a lot of work we need to do by latterly. we shut down cement trade and not like trucks come and middleman and was to make middlemen liable so that it's not just the isil forces themselves that can be sanctioned and we are working very hard and adam is leading the effort for us. >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary, thank you for your extraordinary public service and the manner in which you handled treasury very proud of your work. we're here on the budget, some
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of the tax propels in the budget under the jurisdiction of this committee and certainly, support what you're trying to achieve in higher education and make you more affordable to make pensions easier for individuals to accumulate funds for senator portman and i are working on ideas. some energy propels making permanent 179 dealing with energy efficient and retro fit. that is good. new market tax credit and the state i represent low income spend. i just want to use my time to
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talk about fundamentals and you have on the competitiveness of the tax code globally, you are making certain recommendations made in the last budget certainly deal with parts of the problem. and but it doesn't deal with the fundamental issues. the two fundamental problems we have is one, we have two tax codes. one for the wealthy and one for the rest of us and wealthy figure outweighs to get around the changes we make and two steps ahead of us. but if we past that, they will figure out something else. and the second is we have high marginal rates compared to the countries. the 35% corporate rate you deal with and try to get it lower. 39.6% individual rate. and what's amazing about that is that this nation among the nations we compete with relies less on the government sector so why should we have the largest rate? so i want to know why we're not
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considering something fundamentally different where we could have the lowest marginal tax rates in the world by 500% on both income and consumption. we could get a corporate rate down to 17%, individual rate down to 28%. we can do this in a revenue neutral way. you're not going to lose revenues. it's paid for in the tax code. not trying to take it from one sector to the other. all within the tax code itself. it rewards savings and very efficient. you can -- you don't use the tax code as much as you used today for policy but use it to collect revenue. that may seem strange to use the tax code to collect revenue. it's progressive, more progressive than the current tax code. i'd say that's not necessarily a
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high bar but more progressive than our tax code, which i would think most people would want. one of the complaints we hear about it is that's visionary, long-term, what can we do in the short-term? we've been talking about this for 30 years. this is your last opportunity to give us good advice and i would hope you would be visionary. one last point before i give you your time to respond, there are now democrats and republicans both proposing this type of tax reform, so this is not something that can't happen. it can happen. the more and more people look at it, they say gee, why aren't we doing this? why isn't america the only industrial nation that doesn't use consumption taxes? i understand the political hurdles. i tell you this, your propels have political hurdles. some are so common sense. everything has political hurdles. why not try to correct the problem? >> senator, obviously the question of income tax versus consumption tax is very serious analytical one. we have never endorsed a consumption tax. many other countries do and their overall tax burden may not
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be lower than ours. it's just the way it's paid is through different mechanisms. their income tax is lower but total tax may be higher. you know, we do, as you know, well have sales taxes at the state and local level in many parts of the country so this is an area where, you know, where there has been a federal income tax and state and local authorities have tended to use sales taxes. it's not by the basic nature that a consumption tax is more progressive by it's basic nature, it could potentially be less progressive. one would have to design. >> the two -- >> to make it progressive. >> we introduced a bill to do this. this is not hypothetical. the two design factors, revenue neutral. won't grow.
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it will be revenue neutral and the second it will be more progressive than the current tax code because you tax out the benefits to make the tax code progressive. >> i understand those are the objectives behind the proposal you designed. i'm saying inherently in the design of consumption taxes, people at low income levels consume 100% of their income. people at high income levels don't. you have to overcome that by design. not something we've supported or we are working on a proposal for. it's an area of inquiry that someone pays attention to and thinks about. i'd be happy to have conversations about. it's not an area we're looking at putting proposals. >> i didn't expect you to embrace it. that was not the purpose for the question. the purpose is this, we will have hurdles getting any of this done and we've been arguing about this for a long time and it's no long theory. we should have an advantage in the tax code. when you add up the tax burdens of the countries we compete with, they have a higher tax
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burden than we do. why are we losing companies to great britain for example? >> i think, senator, the business tax system is the reason we're losing companies, not -- >> not over 90% of the business pay in at personal rate. >> those aren't the companies -- >> some are. >> senator, your time is up. senator portman. >> thank you, chairman and secretary lou, good to have you back with us. you're probably having nightmares about the budget hearings you've had in the past and this is relatively easy. to many fewer notebooks. >> yes. >> i always hated those hearings. senator carten talked about the competitiveness and tax code and schumer talked about it. i agree, we have got to have a broader reform of the tax code but in the meantime, we know as you have said today that we've got a real problem with regard
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to our business tax as it relates to sea corporations and they are competitive. my one concern is you focus about inversions. that's not the biggest problem. the biggest problem is they are not competitive and when you can't invert because we put regulations out there, we continue to have the problem and i, you know, would reference shyer, which as you recall was going to do an inversion with shyer. these are two huge pharmaceutical companies and didn't move forward because they didn't want to go through the hoops that you require. so what's happened. they bought four u.s. companies, said five. we'll just start buying them and globaling up u.s. companies. the last one, $32 billion acquisition. and as you know, they take investments and jobs with them when they do this. so we have got to get at the
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underlying problem. we talked about it and we have worked together on this. you worked well with us on trying to come up with frame work. i'm happy about some parts of the budget and not others and i think we need to keep an open mind. i may be the last who believes we have to get something done this year. we have to. it's not so much it's the right thing to do but we have to because if we don't, we'll continue to lose more people overseas. it's workers, wages, benefits, that's what gets affected based on the studies i've seen. >> i didn't mean you should -- >> we should talk about that. >> i didn't mean to suggestion inversions are the only problem, they are a big problem and indicative of the competitiveness concerns and i am totally with you that we ought to get something done this year. i mean, we had conversations last year where reasonable people could see a pathway forward.
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i don't think that any of us should feel comfortable just watching more american businesses leave the united states, be purchased by foreign companies -- >> thank you -- >> because we failed to make the effort. >> i appreciate your comments and i think let's be honest. a lot of people said well, the leadership in congress and the white house put this off and what you just told me is you aren't putting it off. you're prepared to roll up your sleeves and get re-engaged and do something this year. if we wait a couple years which is what a lot of people say, we'll lose so many more businesses, every week or so we'll lose one particularly when people figure out we're not going to deal with it because in the boardrooms, the shareholders and pushing and investment banking firms offering big propels that makes the owners of the company and the board members well off but hurts the workers, i think it will be more pressure. let me ask you something else, hardest fit funds. ensuring at the end of the year that we had a better allocation for funds who put more funding
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in, you got 2 billion. senator brown and we have worked on this issue. this is something that affects ohio a lot and michigan a lot. 91% of the allocation is drawn down. we have so many properties out there. these are abandoned homes not just a magnet for crime but they are also reducing the value of everybody else's homes in the neighborhood. could you tell us today what you are doing with regard to distributing the funds? we would like them to be directed to the states and made available for elimination purposes but could you tell us about the allocation formula and how you intend to distribute the funds? >> thanks senator and thank you for the work that you and senator brown did to make this funding available and we are working as quickly as we can to make sure that we get it allocated. we're looking at a combination of approaches to get some money out quickly, as quickly as
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possible through an automatic formula approach but also to keep a mechanism to target based on where the need is the greatest on specific applications. we're very close to completing the process of putting that together. it's obviously only a few weeks since the provision was enacted. i've made it clear to my team that i view this as an urgent issue because i'd like to be able to commit the money and get it out there and use this year. that was the intention of the legislation and i'm very proud of the work that has been done on blight removal using hardest hit funds. it was something that was at the time an innovative interpretation of the hardest hit fund, but i totally agree with you. if you have a house on a block with blighted housing on it, if you don't remove the blighted housing, your chance of staying above water are really tough because blighted housing brings down the values.
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so the economics of it are very strong -- >> thank you. >> we're doing our best to get it out quickly. >> we appreciate your commitment. we have 100,000 homes in ohio that are vacant in the institute that need help now and ready to be demolished and appreciate your commitment and hope this funding will go toward blythed communities. >> we're very much keeping in mind how to be consistent with the purposes congress had in the legislation and as i say very close to being ready to -- time is of the essence. we don't want this to become march, april, may. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman and secretary, thank you for being here. i had a chance to talk to you earlier but i want to reiterate my concern with the budget on the $190 million 19.2% cut to the hand ford cleanup. it's very important we don't
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miss cleanup deadlines and we make sure technically difficult aspects of the project are met and that the river corridor remediation is actually, the challenges of that continue to have great focus. i know that everybody always looks at the budget and thinks there is ways to get money, big numbers and cleanup but this is the largest cleanup project in the world and it has taken a long time and needs to happen and we need to have the continued support. so i appreciate, you know, hearing your comments on that and i know you'll tell me you're going to get back to me because of your position but i want to put administration on notice this is something we have great concern about and want to work with you on it. i also would like if you would comment on where we are with trade promotion, i'm sorry, the tpp bill i supported trade
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promotion authority because i believe in a global economy, the number of buy laterals being done without us was not where we needed to be and that we should allow a lot of different ideas to come before the congress with different propels. so i want to hear where you think we are for the rest of the year with that because i hope that we're not going to have a delay by our colleagues on the republican side of the isle on moving forward on that legislation. i know some people would like to put it off until the next election, but to me, we should use, if we truly believe this is about an effort of the united states making sure that china doesn't become the dominant player in a developing economy, what are we going to do to make sure there is u.s. access and last not to throw this at you in a variety of subjects, this
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issue of puerto rico because of my other responsibility as ranking member on the other side of territories, to me, seems like that congress needs to really act on the restructuring. your budget prosoez sal reflects comments the administration made before the energy and natural resources committee that has oversight over territories, so we appreciate that that budget reflects a restructuring plan, but if you could comment on why it's so important that restructuring plan take place immediately, that i know people think oh, might have more time, june, july. >> i'll take back the comments and share them with omb. i had to pay close attention to this, but as you noted, not currently something that it's directly, but i'll take back
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your comment. on tpp, the signing of agreement was an important step. the customs bill being taken up tomorrow is another important step. and we are going to continue to press forward to have it a vote on tpp. obviously, we're working very hard to make sure when the vote comes up, we have the support to pass it. if yikd take a step back and look at where we were in early december or middle of last year, to promote a u.s. economic leadership in the world. that's unfunded. hugely important. we've done our part, kept our commitment and have tpp signed and now, cued up for a vote this year, so we're going to keep pressing forward. i think u.s. leadership in the world economically is part of
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what makes our country strong and part of what makes our economy strong. and open the trade agreements that provide opportunity frs the u.s. to participate in the future of global growth are a critical part of that tpp is that. on puerto rico, to begin by thanking you for the efforts that you've been making for months now to try and make sure this issue gets the kind of attention it deserves. i believe it is a kris i. i believe there's a need for action immediately on restructuring authority and on oversight. i think there are other aspects, which we addressed in our plan, where if we can get them down, they're urgently needed, but we can't put off restructuring and oversight and we look forward to working with you in your other committee or whatever committee congress chooses to address this. but i think the people of puerto rico need us to act. that's 3.5 million american citizens who are going to be plunged into -- if the congress
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doesn't act! weren't we at the point where this could cost the u.s. economy billions of dollar ifs more and more people migrate from puerto rico to the u.s. because we've left this issue unresolved? >> we're seeing thousands of people leave puerto rico for the mainland and they're american citizens. they don't need permission. they have rights to come anywhere and should have those rights because they're american citizens. what's terrible is that it's further hurting the economy of puerto rico when people who are part of the economic future leave the island. and it does shift the cost burden to where ever those people go. if there are costs that fall either on health care systems or public authorities. so, the only pathway to a stable future for puerto rico has to involve them restructuring their debt. there's a variety of ways that authority could be legislated. we look forward to working with you and others to meet with
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support. we just have to remember tat the core, if they don't get the restructure their debt, they're insolvent. they cannot keep making those payments without having the economy grind into a place where it could not bounce back from. they'll be locked up in five or ten years of ugly litigation. it has to be effective. it has to work. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. senator hirl. >> mr. chairman, thank you. i'll take my 30 minutes now. thank you for holding this hearing and your commitment to tax reform. i want to thank the secretary
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for being here and for your patience. the comments made by senator schumer and portman are reflective of some of the thoughts i've had. in this hearing when we were talking about the bill and the use of repatriation, those revenues for a change in the way we deal with infrastructure this this country. with the passage of the five-year highway bill, that was supported be by the administration, is there a different use now for those revenu revenues? is there another use for it? >> so, senator, you and i have discussed, the five-year reauthorization was important because going year to year was terrible, by did not have sufficient funding to provide for the infrastructure we need in so many parts of the country, including the west. so, for us to be able to have tuntss to build the infrastructure we need for the 21st century, we're going to need more funding. we think that using the funds
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associated with business tax reform are a win win. first of all, the biggest advocates for infrastructure investment are the businesses of the united states. they need us to have better roads. >> i agree. >> and there's bipartisan basis for agreement. so, we're still very much of the view that bringing them together is essential. >> i'm pleased that you have continued view that they should get something done. i don't know what the possibilities are, but i hope that we keep open minds. on this process. i want to turn to another subject and that's the irs. the gao report -- the lowest level of telephone service during the fiscal year of 2013. you have oversight. only 30%, 38% of the college reach in irs agents. >> terrible. >> what's the new threshold?
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you oversee irs. what is the threshold you want to meet? >> senator, my goal for everyone to get their phone call answered. if you visit an irs call center, you have empty seat where is there should be people answering the phones. it takes people during tax season to answer the phones. at the end of the year, we got an increase in proep ration. we are hiring people. this tax season, we will have more people in place to answer calls. it won't be perfect. we are going to dramatically improve. >> what should be the expectation? >> commissioner will be here this afternoon. he probably will be in a better position to give you a pinpoint estimate. we want to substantially reduce the wait time and drop rate. but that wasn't because we didn't want to answer the phones. we weren't given the money to hire people to answer the phones. >> is that your responsibility cos kins?
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>> he manages the irs on a daily bases and reports up to me. i advocateded for the funding we got in december, so i very much am engaged in making sure that we do better. what we can say is that we can get the phones answered if we don't have enough people. we started in this -- i don't have -- we have the same goals, but what is what is -- >> 70% give you a little bit more. they were recruiting people before the appropriation pass nd the hope it was passed, but couldn't hire anyone until they had the money. we're talking about from the end of the year until now to stand up new personnel to be in place to answer questions. >> let's change topics real quick.
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he's not giving me my 30 minutes. on the omnibus. there's a two-year delay on the cadillac tax. in your budget, you talk about a g geographic adjuster. can you explain? sfwl the idea behind the cadillac tax was always to just hit the top, most expensive plans, a way to bend the curve. and it had geographical despairties and there was concern fairly broad concern that it was getting beyond the highest priced plans. where the proposal that we have is, the addresses and it makes it clear that it aplies to the most expensive plans. and we continue to believe it's very important if we're going to get our hands on the entitlement problem we've talked about. part is bending the cost curve on health care.
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>> is there any other tax that has a geographic adjuster to it? >> i'm not sure. if that looking at my tax counsel. pardon? >> i'd have to go back ab check if there are others. >> here's my concern. it may affect california. may affect new york, but i have a feeling that it's not going to affect nevada. our unions, our public opinions are going to be affected. our senior citizens are going to be affected by this tax in a couple of years and if this adjustment doesn't affect nevada, i've got some issues with it. >> but senator, the way this will work is the threshold will be set at the goal plan level by state, so states with higher costs will get a higher threshold. i'd have to check where nevada fits. we can gate back to you. it was meant to address the in a fair way, across the country,
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making sure that the gold plan reflected local costs, but we can get back to you. >> thank you for being here. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. for your patience. >> thanks, mr. chairman. >> i want to follow up, i hadn't planned to raise this, but secreta secretary, senator has raised the issue of cadillac tax. i remember five or six years ago having economists to your left, to your right. from all across the spectrum and they say if you do nothing else on health care reform, the one thing you need to do is make sure that at some point in time when the cost of a health care coverage for a person, for a policy, which is high level at some point in time, it should not entirely be treated as a tax benefit. there should be some consequences and they all agreed on that. they all agreed and we ended up with this jury rigged kind of approach the cadillac tax to try
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to scratch that itch, but i applaud the your effort to try to do something. but -- >> we have the support of those economists, still. they all signed a letter. >> they sure have. we got their names. senator heller also mentioned the infrastructure, whether or not the repatriation money should be used for that purpose. i said and can say to you, that if the congress wanted a tax and i supported it. part of the working group led by senator schumer and senator portman, but i said if we could pass that, use that for money for at least for a while, for infrastructure, that would be fine by me. although, it runs counterer to what we've done for 50 years and that is to pay for the people and businesses that use the road, highway, bridges actually pay for them and it's not a
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wild, crazy idea. it seems to work pretty well for about half a century. i was intrigued by the $5 per barrel oil fee that i think the administration is proposing. >> $10 over five years. >> there we go. drill down on it too much yet, i bought gas last weekend for my mini van, chrysler town and country with 413,000 miles on it and filled it up god only knows how many times it was. but it's the cheapest gas i bought for a long time for my mini van, a buck 73. i was thinking, you know, if we'd raise the gas tax four sents a year for four year, that would be 16 cents. add that to a dollar 73, it would still with b a buck lt 89. just make the case for me for this proposal, if you would. >> i think the fee makes sense for two reasons. first, it does reflect the cost
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associate associateded with fossil fuel use, which is something that makes good sense. and it would at a time when we particularly have low oil the ability to invest more in infrastructure to give a boost to the highway trust fund and to invest in new technology which we need to have energy independence far into the future. so we view it as being something that will serve multiple objectives. understand it's not a proposal without controversy. but it also meets a number of very important policy objectives. >> all right, thank you. i just come off my hearing of environmental and public works committee and we're focused on the work the army corps of engineers as you know do a lot of important infrastructure work. mostly along our coast but also on rivers and so forth. and they're bemoaning one senator after another, bemoaning the fact that there's not enough money for the army corps of
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engineers to do their work, there is a huge backlog and it turns out there's a huge backlog you've referred to and i've talked about many times in the transportation realm. and we have folks at the irs we don't have enough folks at the irs there to answer questions, you know, be good on the phone, help taxpayers with their -- with their concerns because we don't provide enough money. we provide some money, a bump up but it's not nearly enough money. we could actually correct me if i'm wrong on this but we're always looking for pay-fors around here to pay for tax cuts or the offsets to pay for spending. i will ask the commissioner later on this when he comes in to testify. a good pay-for would be to provide additional resources to the irs. does it pay for itself? there's a multiplier. it's not just a dollar for -- dollar for dollar -- >> it pays for itself many times over and also creates a stronger tax system where people have a sense of fairness that
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everybody's treated the same way. so, i've been a big advocate of more funds for taxpayer enforcement for many different seats of government. >> good. mr. chairman, i'm tom carper and i approved that message. i think we've made a good start last fall but we need to do more. and it's a fair thing to do for all these folks that are calling our offices they're not getting the kind of service they want. and it's the right thing to do for our country. >> i remember the 1990s when the problem was that the social security administration and at the time i considered it critically important that if you call social security you had to get your phone call answered. it's the point of contact with the federal government that people would most frequently have. the irs is right up there. and it's just not acceptable to have a system where people, citizens, can't get through to the two parts of the government that they actually touch in their lives. >> and by doing this, we actually provide some more resources for irs, it actually helps us reduce our budget deficit in the end. it's a win/win.
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thanks, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. secretary. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator carper. we appreciate you. mr. secretary, with regard to inversions, i doubt seriously that they're going to be able to get through before the end of the year the territorial recovery of moneys. for many reasons, some of which are political, some of which are just time concerns, and some of which is come from being difficult to get both sides together. but we're working on a corporate integration program that may very well put a stop to inversions that really if we could go on a bipartisan basis could make a real dent in those problems this year. now, we're -- we're stuck right now because we have to wait until joint tax comes up with its analysis. so far, it looks good.
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and i hope that you'll keep an open mind with regard to that because it's something i think is doable. and it would put a real crimp in the inversions that have been going on in our society, the corporate inversions. and i think we'd get companies back once we do it. now, we all know the best way to solve that problem is to cut the corporate tax rates so that we're competitive. and -- but that's another matter that's very, very difficult to do under current circumstances with the problems between both of the parties here in the senate. i'm looking for ways of bringing people together with the administration and see if we can solve these problems. so, when we get a little farther down the line i want you to come up and go over with me this corporate integration program that i think might very well be something that would help you, help the administration, and help this country to resolve
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these inversions that have been going on. you're willing to do that, i know. >> mr. chairman, i'm not familiar with the details of the proposal and it's hard to see how it addresses inversions without looking at it but i'd be happy to look at it as we have that conversation and i hope we can talk about whether the anti-inversion provisions and the earning stripping provisions might be doable even if we can't do all of business tax reform. >> i'm afraid of those because i think those will cause more inversions rather than solve the problem. this would solve a lot of the problem. it wouldn't solve it all, but it would give us time to do what really needs to be done. i think you and i could agree on that. i would ask you to look through the jct analysis of the earned income tax credit for puerto rico that i've made public just this morning. so, if you'll look at that -- >> i haven't seen it yet. i'm happy to look at it. >> i know you will. and i appreciate if you would. in the meantime i wonder if
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you've given any thoughts to difficulties of administering what you propose and the real concern about improper payments that can easily arise under your proposal. >> i think we have a great deal of experience dealing with the earned income tax credit -- >> 25% payments are wrongfully made. >> i think we would be able to work with the commonwealth to implement it in a way that was designed to have the compliance rate be higher. one of the things that congress enacted last year was a provision giving treasury the ability to provide technical assistance, in a more robust way, to puerto rico, and we have people working with them, so we would endeavor to work with them to set things up so that it was run in a very sound way. i'd be happy to follow-up with you and any concerns you have on that. >> i'll do everything in my power to solve that problem. i think we ought to get it out of politics and get it solved. there are good people down there
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that -- we're quite a bit to blame, too, when we took the tax credit away, it cost them 100,000 jobs as i estimate it. so, i think we got to resolve this problem. i hope we can keep it out of politics. >> i agree. i think we have to deal with it as a crisis that we need to deal with on a bipartisan basis. >> hopefully we can deal with it before the end of march. >> that is my goal. >> we'll work with you. i'd like to thank my colleagues and you, mr. secretary, for participating in this hearing. i think we've had a good discussion here today and i hope that we can continue working together in the future. if any member -- i'll just make this plain. if any member wishes to submit written questions for the record, please have them do so by the close of business on wednesday, february 17th. and so, mr. secretary, you've been very patient to go through this long, arduous hearing and i just want to thank you for your
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patience. with that, we'll recess until further notice. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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now a selection of oral histories with african-american community leaders. the project called explorations in black leadership was a collaboration between university of virginia professors phyllis leflerr and julia bond. it's about 15 minutes. >> phyllis, what is the explorations in black leadership project? >> it's a videotaped oral history interview series that was carried out at the


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