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tv   Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Testifies on Presidents 2020 Budget Request  CSPAN  March 16, 2019 11:28am-12:00pm EDT

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it looks like we agree they should. we owe it to our constituents and the american people and to future generations to do the right thing always but i think today to release the report. mr. speaker, i ask for a yes today, former vice president joe biden will be speaking at a fundraiser in dover. live coverage of the event will begin at its: 15 p.m. eastern with the former delaware senator speaking at about 7:00 eastern on c-span. you can also watch it live online at c-span.org, or listen on our free radio app. q&a --ay, on >> tragically, i had no expectation that we would be 2019 talkingin about this war in afghanistan. the way it has been escalated,
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the way it has escalated every year, the countless lives that , and the been wasted continual suffering. >> iraq war veteran and former state department official matthew hoh on his article "time for peace in afghanistan and in and to the lies." this was the same thing we have seen in iraq in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and the same as when i worked on iraq and war issues at the pentagon and state department in between those times. there was no difference in the administration. both their desire was to win politically, or to win for political reasons, domestic political reasons. everything else was secondary. >> matthew hoh, sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. night on afterwards, georgetown university professor angela stent examines russia's's four and possibly -- foreign
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policy and international goals. she is interviewed by nevada democratic congresswoman been a titus, who serves on the house foreign affairs committee. >> are that we can be a good partner with russia? public opinion shows the majority of russians don't want stability, they want change. they want a better economic situation. many of those people understand that having this antagonistic relationship with the west is -- with the west is not the way to go. sunday night at nine eastern on seas and to. it aims to balance the budget in
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15 years. the proposal includes $8 billion and changes to medicaid requirements. mr. neal: this meeting will come to order. welcome our witness, secretary steve mnuchin. today we'll discuss president trump's proposal to cut more than $1.4 trillion from programs that help america's poor families. the president's fiscal year 2020 budget cuts to health care, medicare, medicaid, threatening social security, and undermining many critical programs for parents and other care givers will be in front of us this morning for discussion. it's no coincidence that this administration as they simultaneously look to cut trillions of dollars from these
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important initiatives come barely a year after supporting unpaid tax cuts for the wealthiest amongst us, totaling $2.3 million of the nation's debt. now in this budget, the president wants to pay for those cuts on the backs of working families. i want to be clear that these tax cuts have not had the miraculous economic effect we have been told to believe. by some measures the economy is doing well and we understand the broad economic recovery has been under way for more than 100 months, including the efforts of president obama. at best the tax cuts were a short-term sugar high. credible and independent forecasters put growth about 1.2%, a far cry from the promised indefinite growth of more than 3%, nowhere near the 6% the president suggested could happen. tellingly, i've heard from many in massachusetts who haven't seen the $4,000 pay raise they were promised under the tax law.
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they can't afford med cases they struggle to keep up with basic expenses and they're being hit with the surprise of owing tax this is filing season. this has been confusing and surprising to these filers. for tax payers with a balance due question such as those finding that they owe taxes for the first time, the i.r.s. answered only 15% of their calls and the average wait time was one hour. as the i.r.s. works to implement the new tax law and recover from the work backlog caused by the government shutdown, we need tone sure it as the resources to fully assist with and resolve taxpayer issues. that means supporting the agent sir's taxpayer services and reversing a decade of declining funds for the i.r.s. before i turn it over to my colleague, ranking member brady, i want to underscore that while we have differences of opinion, i know we agree that no one can beat american workers and businesses when they work on a playing field. i want to acknowledge your work
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on oecd. i plan to pay close attention to these developments especially in light of france's imposition of a digital services tax. i encourage you to stay in close contact with us. i encourage you to reach out on the basis of staff work to shared priorities. at the top of the list is infrastructure. your comments have been encouraging. the president's comments have been encouraging on the issue of infrastructure, repairing roads and bridges, investing in the 21st century infrastructure system a win for everyone. i know and expect that we can count on you to partner with me and my colleagues on this very important initiative as well as other ways to grow the economy and increase opportunities for the middle class. with that, i want to recognize ranking member brady for his opening statement and point out that mr. brady and i are in full agreement on st. patrick's day.
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mr. brady: absolutely. thank you, chairman neal, and thank you, chairman mnuchin, for being here with us to discuss the president's recent budget proposal. you sat on that very chair to discuss the president's initial budget proposal and told us the number one priority was growth that tax reform and balanced regulations could unleash america. experts said there was a new normal in america, a sluggish 2% growth as far as the eyes could see. we had to accept that paychecks would remain flat, jobs would keep going overseas and u.s. manufacturing jobs were gone unless you wield a magic wand. larry somers scoffed that we believed in tooth fairies and then leader nancy pelosi declared it would be armageddon for america. man, were they wrong. thanks to a new, modern tax code and balanced regulation, we have launched a new era of prosperity for america, where work verse
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first claim over their earn, small business and manufacturing is back and american companies can compete and win anywhere in the world, especially here at home. america's economy is growing 50% faster than predicted by the obama white house. local businesses are investing four times faster than the last year of the prior administration. u.s. manufacturing is no longer losing jobs but growing six times faster than president obama's last few years. blue collar employment is surging. the unemployment rate is at historically good rates for those who were left mind in the past, hispanics, african-americans, asian americans, women, teenagers, those without a high school degree, and our neighbors with disabilities. paychecks stagnant for far too long are growing at the fastest rate in decades and even faster among those with low incomes who need it most. today, median household income rose above $61,000 for the first
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time since 1999 and hardworking americans haven't felt this optimistic about their financial future in a long time. new business starts are skyrocketing. small businesses along main street are the most optimistic on record with historically high job openings, plans to hire more workers, higher paychecks and growing profits. here's what makes me optimistic. nearly five million americans have been lifted off food stamps since president trump was elected. the poverty rate for hispanics and african-americans have improved dramatically and is now the lowest on record. maybe that's why american consumer confidence reached an 18-year high recently. with the investment in jobs coming back from overseas, millions of workers with higher paychecks, bonuses and larger nest eggs, local businesses no longer saddled with billions of dollars of washington red tape, u.s. energy now the largest producer in the world and america once again the most competitive economy in the world, that optimism makes
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sense. but we must not go back to the bad old days by repealing the tax cuts and harming the very americans who need help the most. rather than wasting time in congress on a rush to impeachment, democrats and republicans need to work together to grow the economy. america needs more customers and more workers. this means approving the new, modernized u.s.-mexico-canada trade agreement this year so we can reach more customers, create more jobs, and sell more made in america products to our two best trading partners. it means working together on the challenges facing america today, our work force. lack of qualified workers is holding down growth across the country and will slow growth in the future. it means working together to ensure america remains competitive internationally by challenging france's recent proposal to tax cross-border digital services. this is a naked revenue grab
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that targets u.s. companies, double taxes our businesses and violates long-standing norms. i'm hopeful that together we can work on other shared priorities like increasing retirement security for our workers and families, reforming the i.r.s., and growing america's infrastructure. mr. secretary, there are many good pro-growth proposals in the president's budget and we thank you for being here. i yield back. mr. neal: i thank the ranking member, mr. brady. all members' opening statements will be made part of the rule. we adhere to the gibbons rule, meaning when one was seated when the gavel came down. welcome, we've received your written testimony, i ask that you summarize those remarks in five minutes and then we'll begin questioning. please proceed. mr. mnuchin: thank you. chairman neal, ranking member brady, members of the committee, it's good to be here with you
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today. i'm pleased to report that president trump's economic program of tax cuts, regulatory relief and improved trade deals is working for the american people. during 2018, real g.d.p. increased by 3.1% measured from the fourth quart over 2017 to the fourth quart over 2018. this is the highest growth rate since 2005. the unemployment rate remains historically low at 3.8% and earnings rose over 3% in 2018, the highest nominal increase in a decade. more americans are entering the work force because of a renewed sense of optimism. the world economic forum's most recent competitiveness report announced that the united states is the number one most competitive economy in the world. receiving the top ranking for the first time in more than 10 years. companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in new and expanding business
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operations in the united states. this is in large part because the tax cuts and jobs act made our tax rates competitive, moved us from a worldwide system toward a territorial system of taxation and allowed immediate expensing of capital expenditures for hardworking families and also cut rates across the board, doubled the standard deduction and expanding the child tax credit. i would also like to highlight opportunity zones, a key component of tcja. opportunity zones will ensure that more americans benefit from economic expansion and robust job market. they provided capital gains tax relief to encourage investments in business located in distressed communities. this policy has generated a great deal of enthusiasm. these measures are fueling growth along with our efforts to provide regulatory relief and our trade negotiations, we are aiming to break down barriers to markets around the world.
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as you know, china has gained many advantages through unfair trade practices. this administration is committed to rebalancing our trading relationship in order to level the playing field for hardworking americans. we are negotiating with china on structural reforms to open their economy to our companies and protect america's critical technology and intellectual property. the administration is also prioritizing the u.s.-mexico-canada agreement, usmca. it's the most comprehensive trade agreement ever negotiated and will modernize our trading relationship across north america. the usmca will create the highest standards to protect intellectual property rights, support mule and midsized businesses, open markets for agricultural products, spur manufacturing. i encourage all members of congress to support its passage because it will have a positive impact for american workers,
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business owners, farmers, and families. in addition to enhancing overall growth prospects, i want to note positive impact that the administration's economic agenda will have on our country's debt and deficits going forward. during the last administration analysts predicted that 2% growth was the highest america could achieve and that it was the new normal. we have already shown that we can and will do better. an extra 1% of g.d.p. growth per year means trillions of dollars of economic activity and more revenue to the government. turning to the budget, the policies and priorities in the president's fiscal year 2020 budget will foster stronger economic growth, reduce spending, and create a more sustainable fiscal outlook for the country by reducing the deficit as a share of g.d.p. of special interest to this committee, the treasury portion of the budget includes $290 million for modernization account funding which is
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foundational for a new sick-year i.r.s. i.t. modernization plan. investment in modernization of i.r.s. information technology systems and infrastructure will protect the integrity of our tax system and improve customer service for taxpayers. i'm pleased to continue working with you on policies and especially, mr. chairman, as you noted infrastructure that will help to create jobs and increase wages for the american people. thank you very much. mr. neal: thank you, mr. secretary. each witness will be recognized for three minutes to question the witness today so we ensure all members have an opportunity to inquire before the secretary's schedule require he leave. i begin by recognizing myself. the debt limit was reinstated at the beginning of this month and your department has started extraordinary measures. thank you for your response to my january letter and the commitment we have to protecting the debt ceiling to protect the full faith and credit of the
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united states. we've seen what brinksmanship does on the question. last year it led us to a shutdown. american taxpayers suffered in the longest shutdown in history and similar brinksmanship is dangerous and reckless and irresponsible. do you support raising a clean debt ceiling extension sooner rather than later? mr. mnuchin: i do, and i encourage congress to do that sooner rather than later as you said. mr. neal: mr. secretary, we have had many encouraging conversations about infrastructure and the system we recognize in america today is suffering years of underfunding and neglect. i believe we have an opportunity to make a meaningful, sustained investment to lay the foundation for economic growth for years to come and create thousands of good paying jobs. we must be ready to put real federal dollars behind this commitment and maintain the traditional 80-0 split between
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federal and state spending. the president campaigned on a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package and mentioned infrastructure again in this year's state of the union are you and the president still committed to the $1.5 trillion bold infrastructure package you previously outlined? mr. mnuchin: mr. chairman, the president and i are fully committed to that. i've appreciated the opportunity that you and i have spoken on the phone and had the opportunity to meet and talk about this and we very much look forward to working with congress on a bipartisan basis to pass infrastructure quickly. mr. neal: another encouraging note where i think there's opportunity for cooperation here is on the multiemployer pension plan, the limit the country is about to face. do you have plans to address that issue based on conversations i have had with many stake holders they've said that the words of the administration have been encourages. that is a huge problem, could conceivably take down the pension benefit guaranteed trust
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and i think working on it sooner rather than later makes good sense. is that still the administration's position? mr. mnuchin: it is. in my role as secretary of the treasury and as a member of the board of the pbgc, this is important to us. i have had the opportunity to meet with workers impacted by this, i know there's a bipartisan group working on this. we look forward to supplying you help and work with that. mr. neal: the legislation i proposed on this issue has many republican co-sponsors, i hope other republicans would sign up. i think just about every member of the democratic party in the house in the past session signed the legislation, i think it's a good starting point in the conversation for hopefully getting something done before the problem really gets out of hand. with that, let me recognize ranking member brady for three minutes. mr. brady: thank you. when i think of the work you did, i think of russell marine back home they gave their
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workers $1 million in bonuses. raised everyone's pay 10%. they bought millions of dollars of new equipment they couldn't afford before. and they green lighted a new company office because the building i was in was plenty old. i think lone pint brewery in magnolia texas. they started this craft brewery a number of years ago. they told me because of tax reform they can give all 10 of their workers full health care. vision and dental. some of which their kids have never had before. the back porch we were standing on is going to be their new cold room because of the savings they have from the tax cut. i think of the two new manufacturing plants i toured a couple of weeks ago in the poorest part of my district in east texas built in part because now businesses can write off new equipment and machinery the very year they buy it. when i'm back home people tell me that the silliest things they hear is tax refunds are down so taxes must be up.
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and while that claim has been fact checked as misleading and nonsensical, the media covered it like it was life discovered on mars. as we know, your refunds have zero to do with your tax bill. it merely reflects what you overpaid the i.r.s. last year. we know that 95% of americans either got a tax cut or their tax bill stayed the same. so we also know refunds vary from year to year and even within the tax season. the truth is the new tax cuts and jobs act were designed of those families who live paycheck-to-paycheck, they got the help each month when they needed it rather than have the relief. can you give us an update on the tax filing season and where refunds are today? secretary mnuchin: mr. brady, thank you very much. i want to thank you for your incredible work you did on the tax act.
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i think, as you've known, based upon the most recent data, tax refunds are flat on last year. now, let me just give you an example. for an average married couple with one job and two children under the age of 17, their taxes would go down from approximately $3,800 to $1,700, or a reduction of $2,000. if they had been properly withheld, their withholding -- their refund would have gone down 55% as well as their taxes. so the fact that refunds are an average the same means in essence people did not adjust their holding enough to take advantage of the tax act. we've encouraged people to use the calculator. i would just emphasize because taxes are down, refunds should be down. mr. brady: thank you, sir. mr. neal: thank you, mr. brady. with that let me recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. lewis, to inquire. mr. lewis: thank you very much, mr. chairman.
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thank you, mr. secretary, for being here. mr. secretary, there were 11 disclosure of tax records last year under section 6103 of the tax code. mr. secretary, did you personally sign any of these 11 billion tax records? secretary mnuchin: i'm sorry. i don't understand the question, mr. lewis. could you just repeat it? mr. lewis: well, i'll do my very best to make it plain and simple. there were 11 billion disclosure of tax records last year under section 6103 of the tax code. did you personally sign the form to release any of these 11 billion tax records? secretary mnuchin: i don't believe i did but i could check with my team. i am not aware of that, mr.
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lewis. mr. lewis: you don't have any idea who approved? secretary mnuchin: i've been advised that's not something i would normally sign. it would be something that the i.r.s. commissioner would sign off on. mr. lewis: is there a representative of the i.r.s. commissioner present here today? secretary mnuchin: no. i would be happy to follow up with you in your office. mr. lewis: mr. secretary, didn't you prohibit the i.r.s. director from meeting with us? secretary mnuchin: i believe we made available the i.r.s.'s team of experts that are available and i believe at the appropriate time the i.r.s. commissioner will come and testify as i am doing. mr. lewis: when is the time right? when will the time be right? secretary mnuchin: i'd be more than happy to follow up with the chairman and schedule it at a mutually available time.
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mr. lewis: thank you. mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent to submit a statement from veterans' groups against this budget. mr. neal: without objection. mr. lewis: thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. mr. neal: the chair would recognize the gentleman from florida, mr. buchanan, to inquire. mr. buchanan: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the secretary for his leadership in terms of the jobs act and tax thing that we put together, but one of the big issues is on growth. for 50 years, as you know, or the last 10 years, it's been the slowest growth that we had in the last 50 years. so the impact that this has had is very clear when you look at -- if you want to look at it from a report card standpoint. optimism is at all-time high. that makes a big difference for people that are in business going forward. wages at 3.1% in terms of growth. consumer confidence an 18-year all-time high.
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unemployment is lower in terms of the last 50 years. and seven million claimed job openings available today for folks across the country. so to me, when you look at the report card, there's no question the impact that the jobs act and tax has had a huge difference. let me ask you. the fed is looking at -- they have been raising rates. a lot of people think is kind of throwing a cold blanket somewhat on the economy going forward. what's your thoughts? i know in the last go-around they have backed off a little bit. it seems a lot of people feel, why don't we have the opportunity to realize the full potential of this economy going forward? so i just want to get your comments in terms of the fed's actions on raising rates. secretary mnuchin: well, first, let me just comment on the growth, as you've mentioned. i do agree with the growth has led to tremendous opportunities for hardworking americans.
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i think, as you know, i meet with the fed chair on a regular basis. we do discuss the economy and other issues on a weekly basis. it would be inappropriate for me as treasury secretary to comment on specific fed actions in the future. mr. buchanan: thanks. and with that i'll yield back. mr. neal: i thank the gentleman. i thank the secretary for that answer, incidentally. let me recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. doggett, to inquire. mr. doggett: mr. mnuchin, i must say i am a little surprised to see you here. during the time that the massive tax breaks for those at the top and the multinationals were being forced here, neither you nor any member of the administration had the courage to come and be questioned about the contradictions in that move. you refused to be questioned in public about the special deal you cut in the enterprises for one of putin's buddies. you ignored chairman neal's letter to permit a reasonable
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time for congressional review of this shady deal even after congress voted to stop it here in the house. you continue to deny every request for documents from multiple congressional committees about this wrong. you did show up one time here and insisted like the day that questioning of you be limited to a few minutes. and then with mr. brady's very effective protection, you managed to give no oral answer to the questions that i posed. instead agreed you'd supply written answers to those questions in writing that i still don't have more than a year later. let me just ask you directly, since you are fully aware that section 6103-f-1 of the internal revenue code says upon written request of the chairman of the committee on ways and means, the secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified, end quote. are you willing to provide and
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fulfill the command of the statute in your mandatory duty to properly release any personal and business tax returns of president trump that you're requested to provide? secretary mnuchin: well, mr. congressman, let me first comment on the first part of that. mr. doggett: i just want to be sure i will get an oral answer. secretary mnuchin: i will make sure i will answer the end. mr. doggett: you have a minute to do it. secretary mnuchin: this is highly unfair. first of all, i did come and give a classified briefing. mr. doggett: yes, sir. secretary mnuchin: to the entire congress. mr. doggett: which the speaker called a waste of time. secretary mnuchin: that's your view. mr. doggett: that's her time. mr. brady: mr. chairman, if the witness could be allowed to answer. mr. doggett: let me ask you, mr. secretary. you can give any explanation, the chairman and mr. brady will provide, but will you comply with the command of the statute and provide the returns under 6103, yes or no? secretary mnuchin: i will answer
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that. mr. doggett: will you just answer it now? you have 30 seconds. secretary mnuchin: the answer is i will -- if i receive a request, which i presume from what i read in the press i will receive, i will consult with the legal department within treasury and i will follow the law. that's my answer, mr. congressman. i would like to answer the previous part, which i think -- mr. doggett: you're welcome to do so. have you received any instruction or guidance from anyone regarding how to handle these requests? secretary mnuchin: i'm more than happy to answer your question. in due respect, i'd like to finish with my previous answer which is, mr. chairman, i think i worked with you on a mutual date. i was not aware of that the committee didn't think they had enough time today. i'd be more than happy to stay an extra half an hour if that's necessary so people feel like they have the proper amount of time to answer -- ask me questions. and i believe that we've accommodated all requests from the committee and if there's open requests on documents or anything else, mr. chairman, we'd be more than happy to work
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with you and mr. brady. i think there was a second part of the answer i didn't answer? mr. doggett: yes. secretary mnuchin: on the tax return -- mr. neal: let me say something. by precedent here, the witness is always allowed to finish their answer. mr. doggett: not last time when i asked a question, there was no answer given. secretary mnuchin: i want to make sure i will answer. was there anything else i didn't answer? mr. doggett: have you received any instruction or guidance of any kind about how to handle -- mr. brady: can you answer that question -- secretary mnuchin: from whom? mr. neal: let the witness finish the questioning. mr. doggett: have you received any instruction or guidance of any kind about how to handle congressional requests for president trump's tax returns and if so from whom? secretary mnuchin: i have because i read this in the press so first of all, i haven't received the request. if you have the request for me today, i'm happy to accept it. if not, if you decide in the future to deliver this we will receive it. i can't speculate on the request
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until i see it. i have discussed with the legal department in the treasury that we will most likely receive this request. as i said, based upon the request, we'll examine it and we will follow the law. recent hearings reaping another >> health and human services secretary alex azar testified on the president's 2020 budget request before a house energy and commerce subcommittee. next, an hour-long portion from the hearing. >> thank you very much. chairman, chairwoman, ranking members, thank you for inviting me here to discuss the

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