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tv   [untitled]    August 2, 2011 10:54am-11:24am EDT

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future. education, energy, et cetera, et cetera. so i -- i really hope that the special committee will redeem our hopes and that congress will, too, by dealing with entitlement reform. i want to say here that senator tom coburn of oklahoma and i in june introduced a proposal that would take steps to save medicare for the almost 70 million people who will be on medicare in a decade and reduce the enormous costs it places on our taxpayers. i think a lot of people in our country think that the payroll deductions and the premiums they pay pay the total benefits of medicare. unfortunately, not so. the average medicare beneficiary if their lifetime takes three or four dollars out of the system for every dollar they put in, and you just can't run a program
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long term like that. and who picks up the rest? the taxpayers, the budget. that's a big part of why we're heading into deficit. so you can't save medicare by leaving it as it is. you can only save medicare and i want to save medicare i believe in the program if you change it. senator coburn and i put forward this plan that will save over over $600 billion in medicare costs over the next decade. extend the solvency of medicare by at least 30 years and reduce medicare's 75-year unfunded liabilities by $10 trillion. now, i know our plan contains some strong medicine, but that's what it takes to keep medicare alive, and we know our plan administers that medicine in a fair way. senator coburn andary going to forward our proposal which is in legislative form to the joint select committee for their consideration, and we hope that they will include parts of it in
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their recommended legislation. i also believe it's essential for the joint committee to act to bolster the solvency of social security. many argue that social security is not contributing to the deficit because it has a positive balance in the social security trust fund, but what is in that trust fund? it's notes that the united states government has given to the social security trust fund every time we have borrowed from it, and of course we're bound to pay that money back. the fact is today that social security is running a deficit on a cash flow basis. in other words, the payments into the system are not as great as the payments out, and they will continue to do that in increasing numbers in the foreseeable future. what does that mean? it means that the social security trust fund has to come to the federal government to redeem the bonds that the government gave social security when it borrowed the money, and how does our government pay back
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the social security trust fund? by borrowing over the next two decades $2.6 trillion currently held in i.o.u.'s plus interest. if we don't do something to save social security when we hit the year 2036, social security will only be able to pay benefits to the extent that they're covered by incoming receipts, and that will mean a sudden, shocking, painful 23% cut in benefits for senior citizens. we have got to begin to enact reforms now to slowly save social security, and we can do it. i want to indicate today to my colleagues that senator coburn andary working again on a bipartisan proposal to secure social security for america's seniors for the long term, and we hope to have that done in time to also forward to the special committee for their consideration.
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so bottom line, we can't protect these entitlements and also have the national defense we need to protect us in a dangerous world while we're at war against the islamist extremists to protect us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come. we can't not touch the entitlements or raise taxes and create tax reform proposal and expect to protect all the programs of investment in our future that mean so much to america's families. education particularly, alternative energy, investments in our transportation system. and to be able to do all that in the right way, we need this special committee on congress to take the next steps. but this is a significant beginning as imperfect as it is. mr. president, finally for all
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of us and particularly for the president, the speaker, the majority leader, the republican leader in the house and the democratic leader in the senate and everybody who works so hard here, coming close to the kind of grand bargain that i think we needed that simpson-bowles commission adopted, that the gang of six, our six colleagues recommended to us which i support, and that the president and the speaker, president obama, speaker boehner were close to but unfortunately fell apart, there is disappointment that a lot of us feel in this. but perhaps to set it in a broader context, i want to quote from an op-ed piece in "the wall street journal" today written by david rifkin and lee casey, two lawyers whose work i have long admired, and here's what they say, to take us back and perhaps remind us that we fill these seats for a short period of time.
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we act within a system created by our framers and we do our best. rifkin and casey write today -- "the debt ceiling crisis has prompted predictable media laments about how partisan and dysfunctional our political system has become, but if the process leading to the current deal was a spectacle and a three-ring circus, as someone put it, the show's impressarios are none other than james madison and alexander hamilton. our messily political system is working exactly the way our founders intended it to." then i go toward the end of their op-ed piece. "the key point has been made" -- excuse me. let me start a paragraph ahead. "rarely in our system do the participants, whether in the white house, senate or house, achieve all or even most of their goals in a single
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political battle. but the key point has been made, few now suggest that we can continue on our current spending binge. that is the beginning of a consensus and a good start towards genuine change. the framers would be pleased at the spectacle." i thank the chair, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. a senator: i commend the senator for his remarks. mr. isakson: i associate myself with what he said and i will support this bill when it comes to the floor at 12:00 today. on saturday i came to the floor at 2:00 out of frustration and made a speech critical of the negotiators as we were letting the clock run and had no deal. i was critical because we had pretty much had agreement that we were going to cut, we pretty
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much had an agreement that we were going to establish a select committee to do the cutting, but we hadn't agreed to a balanced budget amendment. we hadn't agreed to an enforcement mechanism on the committee to make sure they do the cutting. we hadn't agreed to triggers on accountability. i come to the floor today not frustrated, but feeling somewhat rewarded because on the three solutions negotiated, to those three component parts of this particular legislation, the genie is out of the bottle and history is about to be made. number one, on the debt ceiling increase, when the trigger was finally established, it means that from now on whenever this debt ceiling increase asked for by a republican or democratic president, it will be demanded that there be spending cuts commensurate with any increase. that is historic. that is the first step in the right direction of sanity, accountability and fiscal responsibility. secondly, they finally came
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together and agreed that there would be a balanced budget amendment vote in the house and in the senate before this year ends with incentives for us to vote for that balanced budget amendment. for the first time since 1995, the first time in 16 years the congress of the united states will be debating, forcing itself to do what every american family has to do. there's not a family within the sound of my voice that hasn't had to sit down in the last three years in this country because of our recession and our economy, and because of spending, and reprioritize how they spend their money, balance their budget, live within their means. it's about time the congress of the united states asks of itself what it imposes on every family in america. and as far as the select committee, there was a fear among many that it would only be a pay per tiger, that it won't have the claws or teeth to do what it needs to do on the cuts. while i would have done a different type of sequestration, i commend those who negotiated this sequestration and putting one in that had enough teeth and
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enough fear to force the select committee to do what it needs to do. today when i vote in favor of this agreement, i will be voting for us to be cutting spending where we need to, not as much as i would have liked but a lot more than we've ever seen before. but most importantly voting for the assurance that never again will a debt ceiling go up without a debate for commensurate cuts in spending. that's important. i will be voting for this because we'll have a balanced budget amendment on the floor of the united states senate and on the floor of the united states house that we have long needed to do since the last one failed 16 years ago. and we finally have a sequestration mechanism or an stpoerbgsment phebg -- enforcement mechanism to force the select committee to do what it is charged to do in this particular legislation. my frustration that i expressed on saturday is gone. my pride in the senate is restored and i look forward to casting my vote in favor of this agreement at 12:00 today. and i yield back.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas is recognized. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you for recognizing me. i'm honored to be once again on the senate tphraofrplt i've spoken many -- senate floor. i've spoken many times on the issue that is before us for a vote in a few minutes. this is a significant point in our country's financial history, a time in which politics has played its course and decisions have to be made. i come here at this moment with no real joy. we put the american people through a lot, certainly over the last several months as we asked them to follow us along as we discussed this idea of raising the debt ceiling. there was some thought by many of us that we could use this moment of raising the debt ceiling to make some significant changes in the way that we do
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business in washington, d.c. and in fact, on march 22 of this year, i wrote president obama a letter indicating that i could not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless i saw substantial reductions in spending and structural changes in the way that we do business in the united states congress and in washington, d.c. and while i say there is no joy for me to be here today, in my view we have failed to do either one. there are no substantial reductions in spending, and there's no significant changes in the way that washington, d.c. does business. mr. president, this country needs certainty. and i've said all along that we need to raise the debt ceiling. there needs to be that certainty. and i've said it would be irresponsible for us not to raise the debt ceiling, but i've said all along it would be equally as irresponsible if we raise the debt ceiling without meeting the criteria that i've
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outlined. and while we'll have a discussion among all of us that continues today, and we'll probably play quarterback and friday afternoon morning quarterback after this is over. but there are no cuts in this bill. there is only a reduction in the growth of spending, and that reduction is so small -- $21 billion reduced in the first year in the growth and spending. now, in kansas, we hear the word "billion" and we think that's a lot of money, and it is. and so i think kansans will hear that word, $21 billion, and think, oh, my, they're finally doing something significant. but the truth is we spend $4 billion more each day than we take in, and that $21 billion if
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realized in the slowing of growth of spending will be gone in less than a week. this legislation does not cut spending. and while we promote a balanced budget amendment, which i think is so critical to our success in changing the structure of how we do things here, there is no balanced budget amendment to the united states constitution in this or one that will necessarily be sent to the states for ratification. our national debt will continue to grow. and in fact at the end of ten years, if everything in this legislation is accomplished -- and i think we have to be skeptical about that -- our national debt will grow and reach $22 trillion. we're at $14.3 trillion or $14.4 trillion now. ten years from now with this legislation in place, $22 trillion. and over the next three decades,
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our debt will become three times the size of our entire economy. you know, we talked about the changing the way we look at things in washington, d.c., and for the first time -- and i agree with this -- we're talking about reducing spending in the amount, reducing the growth of spending by the amount that we're raising the debt ceiling. but can you imagine a family back in kansas congratulating themselves for changing the topic without ever changing their spending patterns? kansas families, when they're in trouble for spending too much money, they cut the budget today, and we are not doing that. they don't just slow the growth and they don't wait for ten years to see it realized. the problem is today. and i think this is a significant problem. people will say that we need to raise the debt ceiling today or our credit worthiness will be judged by the rating agencies and we will be downgraded. i worry that even with the passage of this bill, its
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effects are so minimal in spending that the downgrade will occur regardless. so, mr. president, this is a time for us to make the tough choices as compared to kick the can down the road one more time. it's an honor to serve in the united states senate. nothing in my life, my background would ever suggest i'd have this opportunity. i am honored to serve kansans here, and i will do my best to make the right decisions on their behalf. but as i listen to kansans for the last two years on the topic of what's important to them, the economy matters. and the first thing we have to do is get our fiscal house in order so that the economy can grow and people can find jobs and get better jobs. and while my assumption based upon the news reports is that the legislation that i oppose will pass today, i pledge myself to my kansas constituents that i will work hard to see that every
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dime that is possible to be saved occurs. and i will redouble my toefrts see that we -- my efforts to see that we grow the economy and put americans back to work. because the revenues that we need to balance our books are not increases in taxes. the revenues we need to balance our books is a strong and growing economy, so that every american today can put food on their family's table, save for their children's education and prepare for their own retirement, and that we are blessed with the opportunity in this country to see every american child be able to pursue the american dream. i thank the president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire is recognized. ms. ayotte: thank you,
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mr. president. for weeks americans have watched the debate about raising our nation's debt ceiling. i know that it has been difficult and often frustrating to watch what is happening here, but this discussion could not have been more important for the future of america. we have been talking again about whether we would increase america's borrowing limit. in doing so, we have rightly focused on how do we prevent a default on america's credit, but also just as important, rather than just reflexively continue to borrow money that we don't have from chinese bankers, how are we going to confront the fundamental behavior in congress that has led us to this culture of borrowing and overspending in washington, d.c. i have said from the beginning of this debate that we owe it to
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the american people, and i owe it to my constituents in new hampshire, to confront both issues, to avoid default and finally to confront our debt once and for all and to change the direction that we are headed in as a country. to address only default and to continue to kick the can down the road on making the tough decisions to fundamentally change the path that we are on will surely lead to a downgrade of our credit rating. it will sap our economic strength and will lead to the insolvency of the greatest country on earth. while i appreciate the difficult work done by the speaker of the house and our senate leadership
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in coming up with an agreement that avoids default, i am unable to support a bill that delivers the largest debt ceiling increase in the history of our nation but does very little to confront the underlying problems that have brought us here, problems that have led us to over a $14 trillion debt and which will increase us in the next few years to over $16 trillion in debt. i have not come to this decision lightly. i have had countless meetings over the last months and weeks with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to talk about this issue and how we can confront this crisis now. i have said from the beginning that we need fundamental changes in the way that we do business in washington, including budget
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reforms, enacting a responsible budget. i'm a member of the senate budget committee, the newest member of that committee, and it has been terribly disappointing to me that it has been over two years since the senate has sat down and allowed the budget committee to do its work and come up with a budget for the united states of america. so we do need fundamental budget reforms. i have said we need major spending reductions and we need to reform our entitlement programs. i cannot in good conscience agree to a deal that continues to perpetuate the culture of overspending and borrowing in washington. in coming to this decision, i have asked myself several questions. the first question i have asked myself is does this agreement reduce spending?
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unfortunately, the answer is no. while it claims to reduce discretionary spending by by $917 billion over the next ten years, only in washington would this be called a spending reduction. because of base line budgeting, a reduction of $917 billion as it's claimed is no reduction at all. over the next ten years under this agreement, we will spend over $830 billion more in discretionary spending under this agreement. so there is no reduction in spending. if you just look at the reduction in this year from what we have actually -- we actually will spend in 2011 to 2012, it's really only a $7 billion
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reduction in spending between what we will spend in 2011 and 2012. we borrow $4 billion a day to sustain our government, so the spending reductions between what we spent in 2011-2012 is not even two days of borrowing for the united states of america. many of the cuts are in the out years. and you know what happens in washington when the cuts are in the out years? unfortunately, our history has been that they don't get done. that's why i'm concerned about even the $917 billion claim in reductions, which is not a reduction in spending. i have also asked myself does this agreement in any way reduce the size of government? we know that this government has
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continued to grow even as state governments and families have made the tough decisions to downsize, to reduce, to live within their means. this deal does not cut or end one government program. in march, the g.a.o. came out with a report that identified hundreds of duplicative programs that happen here in washington where we could save billions of dollars. my colleague from oklahoma, senator dr. tom coburn, he has done the hard work of identifying hundreds and hundreds of duplicative programs where we could save billions and billions of dollars, yet this agreement does not reduce the size of government at all or end one of those programs. does it avoid a downgrading of our credit? unfortunately, i think this agreement will also lead us to a
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downgrade. and why does that matter? because it will hurt the economic strength of america and our economic growth. our borrowing costs. it will hurt our job creators when now more than ever we need to create jobs in this country and put people to work, yet our failure to get our fiscal house in order here in washington is hurting the hard-working people in new hampshire and america. the credit rating agencies and even the president's own fiscal commission have said that the minimum amount of debt reduction that we need to do over the next decade is $4 trillion, just to stabilize our debt and to ensure that our aaa credit rating is not downgraded. but this agreement, even if everything happens, and this
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congressional committee does all of this work, we will only see a maximum reduction of of $2.4 trillion, and that is assuming that everything in those out years gets done, which we don't always have a good history of here in washington. finally, does it change the trajectory of where we are going with our debt to preserve our country? now, under this agreement we will continue to add close to a trillion dollars a year to our debt, a debt that is already already $14 trillion a year, and it does nothing to strengthen our entitlement programs. we know from the trustees of medicare that that program is going bankrupt in 2024. we know from social security that that program is going to be
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bankrupt in 2036. yet we have not taken on that fundamental problem in this agreement is how do we reform those programs to preserve the programs for americans that are relying on them and to sustain them for future beneficiaries. while i appreciate that we are beginning to change the discussion here in washington, i cannot support this agreement. i appreciate that it's very important that we avoid default, but i know that we are better than this. i know that we can do more to make sure that we preserve the greatest country on earth. we need to take on the fundamental problems, the chronic overspending in washington. we can't continue to say that a reduction is a reduction when it's not, when we're continuing
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to spend more money because at home people look at that and they say give me a break, that's not how i do my family budget. we have to tell the truth to the american people and make the hard decisions. i know that we can come together and get something done here that will fundamentally change the direction that we're headed in. that's why i'm disappointed about this agreement, because it doesn't do that. we must do more than avoid default. we must save our country for the sake of our children, and i have often come to this floor and talked about the fact that i am the mother of two children. the presiding officer: the senator has used ten minutes. ms. ayotte: if i may have one more minute? the presiding officer: without objection. ms. ayotte: i am the mother of a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and this discussion goes beyond those of us who are serving right here. it is about what kind of country
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are we going to leave for the next generation, and i know that i will not look my children in the eye and have them say mom, what did you do about it? we have to solve this crisis now. i know we can, mr. president, and i look forward to working with my colleagues on behalf of the people of new hampshire to really rolling up our sleeves, finally cutting spending and saving the greatest country on earth. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i ask unanimous consent that the time during quorum calls be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: i suggest there is no quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:


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