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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  August 3, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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>> the senator from illinois. >> madam president, this is a historic vote, one that involved a lot of soul searching and hard work. senators reid and mcconnell, i want to salute both of them for working hard to bring us this moment where we have an opportunity to vote. the house passed this legislation, so-called budget control act. the senate will take it up shortly. it is my belief that it will also pass in the united states senate, but my vote for this legislation does not come without some pain. well, madam president, on this matter my conscience is conflicted. if this bill should fail, we will default on our nation's debt. that will be the first time that has ever happened.
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and if we should default at midnight tonight on our nation's debt, terrible things will ensue. we will find america's credit rating in the world diminished. the interest rates tkh we pay as a -- which we pay as a nation increased, the cost of money for businesses and families across the united states will increase at exactly the wrong time, in the midst of recession. if we fail to pass this legislation, tomorrow the secretary of treasury would sit down with the president of the united states and decide in the month of august which americans who were expecting a check will actually receive one. will we pay social security recipients? will we pay the members of our military? will we pay the central intelligence agency? it is an impossible choice that the president would face if we fail. but there's another side to this story. if this bill passes, we will reduce spending on critical
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programs. we have to be honest about it. fewer children from poor families will be enrolled in early childhood education. working families and their children will face even more debt to pay for college education. medical research will likely be cut and the list goes on. so from where i stand, it is not the clearest moral choice. i spoke to our chaplain before we started the session about a line in shakespeare that i have always struggled to understand. it is from hamlet, and it's the line in his famous sol little kweu when he said -- soliliquy when he said conscience makes cowards of us you will. i struggle with the question of
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defunding on the debt and passing this bill with all of the consequences on innocent people in america. madam president, i've spent the last year and a half focused on this debt situation like i've never been focused before. i understand it a little better today than i did when i started, and i've come to the conclusion that if we are going to be honest about our debt and honest about reducing it, we have to be honest on how it will happen. sure, we must cut spending. that's where we have to start. but we also have to understand that it goes beyond that. we have to be prepared to raise revenue. in the simpson-bowles commission and in the gang of six, i thought we came up with an honest answer to that question. it was a balanced approach that put everything on the table. well, this bill makes a serious and significant down payment in spending cuts. now a joint committee is created to take the next step.
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i will say this, if the next step is to be fair, if the next step is to be serious, it has to go beyond spending cuts. it has to look at serious questions about how we can save money in entitlement programs without compromising our commitment and how we can ask those who have profited so well in america, who live so comfortably to join us in this effort by paying more in taxes. that is the stark reality. if we continue to move toward more and more spending cuts, we will literally disadvantage the poor and working families of america to the advantage of those who are well off. that isn't fair and it isn't right. many of us -- many people who criticize us say, you know, you don't even read these bills that you vote on. so yesterday i sat down to read this bill. it's not that long. and i will have to tell you that the front end of the bill is almost unintelligible. you need someone from budget
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committee sitting next to you to explain each paragraph. but i basically understand that portion of it. i also understand the portion that senator mcconnell proposed how we'll sequence for interest in the national debt. i certainly understand and am puzzled in some ways by the joint committee's basic charge to find in ten weeks anywhere from $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in savings over the next ten years. in ten weeks these 12 members of the house and senate are to come together and reach an agreement. it's a daunting task. but there's one provision in here that i really want to call the attention of the senate to, and it is one that troubles me greatly. it is a provision that calls for, requires that the united states senate and house of representatives before december 31 of this year vote on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. madam president, i searched this bill long and hard to find the
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language of that constitutional amendment, because i thought if we're going to have to face the prospect of amending the constitution, i want to know what the language is. this is a, an awesome responsibility. madam president, you can read this bill from top to bottom; there is not one word of substance about that amendment. all it says is the house and senate shall consider a bill which is a -- quote -- "joint resolution to amend the constitution of the united states to balance the budget." end of quote, end of substance, end of reference in this bill. it gets better. not only do they require us to take up the balanced budget amendment and fail to include the language of that amendment, listen closely, this bill says there shall be no amendments to the proposed resolution in committee in the house or on the floor of the house, in the committees of the senate nor on the floor of the senate.
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take it or leave it. as i say these words, i can imagine robert c. byrd descending from heaven, standing at that desk and waiving this constitution and reminding members of the united states senate that one of the few times in our lives when we have taken a solemn oath, members of the senate swore up to hold and defend this document, this writing. he would find it nothing short of outrageous that we are mandating a vote on a constitutional amendment that is not even written, that we are prohibiting the house and the senate from considering, even considering the change of one word in that proposed constitutional amendment. madam president, i think the language of this bill entirely discredits this effort toward a constitutional amendment. we cannot take it seriously if we take our oath seriously to uphold and defend this document. madam president, at the end of the day, i will vote for this
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measure, and obviously with a heavy heart there are parts of it that i will struggle to explain and defend, but i can't let this american economy descend into chaos if we fail to extend the debt ceiling. the job ahead will be hard, but let us hope that we will in reducing this deficit further do it in a balanced and fair way with everything on the table. at the end of the day, members of congress and people in higher income categories should feel that they, too, are called to sacrifice. if we ask that of the poorest in america and of working families, we can ask no less of members of congress and those who are well off in this great nation. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president.
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the presiding officer: the other senator from illinois. mr. kirk: thank you, madam president. although this bill reflects a balanced approach, americans also expect a balanced budget. we need to apply the common sense of the heartland to spend within our means as each family does with its monthly budget. the battle over this legislation was hard fought. we have finally started to change a 40-year culture of overspending and overborrowing in just 40 days. we hear the american people and we respect their judgment. they tell us that they are not undertaxed. they tell us that washington overspends. we have a government that claims to support a strong economy but urges tax increases that will weaken it. we hear speeches from some who want to expand employment but then attack employers. they argue for more access to credit but then assail the banks
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that would provide it. they call for more american energy but decry the very explorers who would find it. we need more straight talk and accountability. small businesses provide the most jobs, and we should reward them. inventors create new economies, and we should encourage them. many government programs fail in their objectives. sometimes for decades, and we should cancel them. we face mounting government debts. the way to pay these debts is to generate more jobs, creating more taxpayers who will provide additional revenue, not new federal job-killing taxes. given the views of our president and the economically liberal members of this senate, the legislation before us is the best deal that we can get. this legislation caps regular appropriations of the congress.
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it eliminates procedural impediments so that we will vote on how to cut automatic spending programs. we even installed automatic spending programs regardless of congressional gridlock as a back stop to ensure fiscal responsibility. this bill prevents a crisis from breaking out this week. it also begins to control automatic spending programs, many of whom have run without much accountability since the 1960's. all of this is a down payment on further ways to bring common sense, accountability and control to the spending of our government. these basic values are the foundation of america's 200-year experiment in self-government. if we fail, we deliver a free people into the hands of a financial bondage.
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if we succeed, we honor the promise of limited government that offers greater and greater liberties to each generation of americans so that they could reach their own potential. i will vote for this legislation because it begins to make the hard choices to keep us free, but it is only a first step and a crucial one to increase the transparency, performance and results we should demand from america's government. this bill sets an important precedent, to reform automatic spending. if we use that precedent again, then i can imagine an america that once again becomes the best place on earth for inventors and families to start and expand businesses that will provide for their children and, in a few cases, will span the globe with
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american exports to each market of the planet. and, madam president, with that, i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, madam president. over the past two years, our country has been struggling to recover from one of the worst economic recessions in our history. democrats have worked to pass legislation that would create jobs. it's been our top priority, but at every turn, we faced resistance from idealogues that cared more about winning political points than protecting the wealthy and doing what is right for hard-working american families. that is exactly what happened during this debt ceiling debate. instead of passing a clean extension and getting to work on our economy, we have been forced
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to vote on a last-minute deal to prevent the economic catastrophe that would result in default. i spent the last few weeks and months highlighting the real-life consequences of default for new mexico families. at a time when families are already dealing with extremely tight budgets. a default would mean increased costs for just about everything. from food to gas to housing to sending the kids to college. it would also jeopardize critical federal benefits that veterans, seniors and others depend on to pay the bills and stay healthy. it would mean more than 360,000 new mexicans in danger of losing their social security benefits. it would mean another 300,000 who would rely on medicare, seeing their health care
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disrupted. it would mean 174,000 new mexico veterans may not receive their benefits, and more than 1,400 active duty military personnel may not receive paychecks for their services. but it wouldn't stop there. even if you don't depend on a check from the federal government every month for health care or retirement or other benefits, you would still feel the financial pain of default. that's because mortgage payments would increase by more than than $1,000 for the average family and credit card interest would go up by $250. why is it, you ask? because the interest you pay on just about every loan you have, whether it's a house or a car or college tuition, it's based on the interest rates the treasury pays, and if that interest rate
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rises, as it would in a default, so does the interest rate on just about everything else. new mexicans can't afford that. america can't afford that. and it is to prevent new mexico families from these repercussions that i will vote for this legislation. but that's the only reason, because to be frank, almost everything else about this deal stinks, and it stinks to high heaven. as my friend, the good senator from vermont, said yesterday, this package is grotesquely unfair and bad economic policy. while i firmly believe we must take steps to rein in our deficit, this package is far from the ideal way to do so. i hear every day from new mexicans about the need to rebuild our economy. we should be investing in
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innovation and infrastructure and creating new jobs, but we don't do that with this deal. instead of cutting excess and investing wisely in programs that create jobs, this package will mean fewer dollars for job training, for education programs and housing, hampering our ability to create a long-term recovery. poll after poll shows a majority of americans support shared sacrifice in this recovery. unfortunately, this package also falls woefully short on that count, while we did manage to protect important programs like social security, medicare, medicaid and nutrition assistance programs, there are still many, many important programs that will be on the chopping block. initiatives like housing assistance, help for small businesses and rural economic development programs, just to name a few.
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this all the while the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans and large corporations remain untouched. this package is what happens when idealogues bent on nationalizing their extreme agendas get their way. the fracture that we have seen among republicans in the house over these last few months has much broader effect than just in that chamber. their staunch refusal to compromise at the expense of struggling families has pushed this debate and our nation to the brink. instead of having a frank conversation about how we can repair our economy and reach a simple compromise, we have been forced to vote today to avoid default. with this plan, we get nowhere near the heart of our economic problems. instead, we kick the can down the road a couple of years. all the while, the problem
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continues to grow, impeding our recovery and crippling our economic competitiveness. once this vote is taken and the immediate crisis has passed, it will be all too easy to stick our heads back in the sand and pretend everything is okay. i rise today to say this -- everything is not okay, and it won't be okay until we have the courage and leadership to institute tax reform. not just trimming around the edges or rearranging the numbers to create the illusion of savings when, in fact, nothing has changed. i'm talking about substantive tax reform that is the result of a national conversation about our priorities as a society. we have the opportunity to do just that with the commission being created by this plan, but it will take guts and leadership and hard choices. our national deficit is a burden that drags us down competitively
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and requires serious negotiations, not just concessions to those who see this as a political opportunity to push their personal agendas. we must all come to the table and do what is best for our nation. i see the senator from florida is here, and so -- and i know he's a wise gentleman that has much to say to us, and so with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. thank you. mr. nelson: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: again, i say to my colleague from new mexico what a fine senator he is, as is the
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senator presiding. what a privilege it is to serve with the likes of the both of you. and indeed, the members of this body, they are just extraordinary individuals, and we have all -- we have anguished with what we have been through as the clock was constantly ticking down to midnight tonight, and knowing the consequences. this senator always had the feeling that it was going to work out, that we were going to reach agreement, and interestingly, the financial markets had that same feeling as well because the financial markets never did go off of a cliff. even -- even the asian financial
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markets felt the same thing as we were coming out of the weekend. and so, even though we in this capital city of our nation have gone back and forth over ways to cut this public debt, here we are, and we have an agreement. members of this body as well as the other one down at the other end of the united states capitol clearly are sincere in their differences. but i think what you're seeing in the overwhelming vote yesterday in the house of representatives, that most of the members agree that gridlock doesn't do anything to help the
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country, and especially the economy. and so, we got this compromise plan in front of us, and later today one of two things will be true. either we will have done what is in the best interest of the american people or we will have failed. and i think overwhelmingly what we are going to do when we vote at noon today, i think it could be as much as 75 votes of this 100-member united states senate that will vote in favor of this package. i think not only is it obvious that this package is the way to avoid default, but it starts us on the path of getting serious
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about what we have to do. more than $2 trillion bringing down the deficit over the course of the next ten years, and that's according to the congressional budget office, it's going to cut about half of that now, and it leaves the rest of it up to a supercommittee of 12 members, half from the house of representatives, half from the senate. each of those halfs appointed by the respected leaders of the chambers. and so it is possible that they will deadlock, but i think with the concern about the financial precipice that we have been teetering on, i think that supercommittee is going to come
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up with a significant deficit reduction. they've got a target of about an additional $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. but they're not limited to that. and everything's on the table. so what they could do -- and this is a moment that if we can seize it, it would be tremendous , and that is we can do major tax reform. now, is anybody happy with the existing tax code as it is? and, you know we talk about all of these tax loopholes. the technical term is tax expenditures. what they are are special interest tax preferences for
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individual special interests, and it blows your mind to realize that they will cost $14 trillion over the next ten years. well, why should this special interest have a tax preference and this one have a tax preference, and yet we find it difficult as we go through the harangues here in our debate on what is the level of the tax bracket taxation on ordinary people. you know what you can do? and the supercommittee can do this. they can take a lot of those tax preferences, $14 trillion, they can take only 15% or 20% of those away, and by utilizing
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that revenue, you could simplify the tax code into three tax brackets for individuals and you could lower everybody's tax in that income bracket. and you could lower the corporate income tax. now, that's a real possibility that this supercommittee could do. and, of course, they could give instructions back to the ways and means committee in the house and the finance committee in the senate, and then you start to do reform as well as bringing down the national annual deficit. and so, the backup, if this super committee fails to agree, then there are a series of spending cuts that automatically
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happen. you know, this agreement also calls for a vote on a balanced budget. i voted for balanced budget constitutional amendments in the past, and we're going to have another opportunity to vote for one. i assume we're going to have a vote for two different versions. and the version that's being offered by senator yew tall -- udall is the one that i intend to vote for. so, here we are with a plan that is not a perfect plan. it clearly avoids default. but all of us agree that what it does do is that government spending must be cut, that the public debt must be reduced.
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otherwise, our economy will not recover, and america will no longer be in good standing around the world. that's the bottom line. so, i often quoted, it's actually from the book of isaiah, in which the lord is speaking to the people, and he says, "come let us reason together." isn't that so true here. and was it not avoided for so long where reasonable people of goodwill -- and every one of these senators is a person of goodwill. if we can get out of our ideological rigidity and out of our momentary excessive
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partisanship, then as the good book says, come let us reason together. and i think that that's what we've done. when we pass this -- and it will be an overwhelming vote in about two hours -- and the president can sign it into law, then we can turn our attention back to the economy and creating jobs which we so desperately need to bring us out of this recession that has been lingering far too long. madam president, thank you for this opportunity. and, madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i understand that
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we are alternating. the presiding officer: that is correct. mr. levin: kweuld that after the senator from -- i would request that after the senator from kentucky, who is here to speak -- in that case, i believe i was here on the floor before the senator from kentucky, so i will proceed. madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: madam president, to say that the legislation before us is not ideal is truly an understatement. the notion that our deficit problem can be solved solely by cutting spending flies in the face of our experience when in fact unwise tax cuts for the wealthy and egregious tax loopholes are significant culprits in our fiscal crisis. i believe too many republicans are influenced by an ideology so extreme that it promised to
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wreak economic havoc if it did not get their way. no additional revenues became the battle cry, an approach that prevents the balanced deficit reduction that the american people rightly support. the result is that this legislation incorporates some policies that are profoundly unfair to middle-income americans. so seen in isolation, madam president, this is not a good bill. but no public policy exists in a vacuum. despite its many flaws, this legislation must pass. and let me explain why. while there will be a number of negative consequences as a result of this bill's passage, there will be more dire consequences if it fails to pass. the choice here is between a faulty piece of legislation on the one hand and severe damage to our economy and even greater
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joblessness on the other. the choice we face now, today, with this vote is whether to accept a flawed bill or to watch the united states, the globe's preeminent economic power, default on its obligations to senior citizens, students and veterans as well as to those who have invested in our country by the purchase of our bonds and our treasury notes. we've taken many steps in the past three years to try to restart job creation in this country. those efforts would come undone if the crisis that would follow -- in a crisis that would follow our failure to pass this bill. one of the things that is right about this legislation is that it avoids a misguided demand that we have another round of crisis and negotiation over this issue in just a few short months. a short-term increase to the
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debt limit is house republican -- as house republicans demanded would have led to a down grading of the federal government's rating. we simply cannot put the american people and the american economy through that again. despite this bill's imbalance in focusing solely on spending cuts, it does contain a mechanism that can force acceptance of what our republican colleagues have refused to accept. the reality that revenue must be a part of real deficit reduction and that fair and effective deficit-reduction efforts require shared sacrifice. 2011 is the year of unbalanced spending cuts. 2012 must be a year of shared
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sacrifice, one in which the president uses the bully pulpit to lead the nation to accept the notion that everyone, including surely the wealthy, must play a role in reducing deficits. democrats have repeatedly emphasized this point. it is a simple fact that among the largest factors contributing to our deficits is the bush tax cuts, tax cuts that greatly increased the growth of the gap between the wealthiest among us and working families. today median household income, the income of the typical american household, is lower than it was in the mid-1990's, and yet the wealthiest americans not only do extremely well, they are doing better and better all the time. a few decades ago the wealthiest 1% of all americans took in 10% of all income.
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today it's 24%. these numbers are not abrasions nor -- aberrations nor actions of a free market. they reflect policy choices, and too often the choice has been to pay lip service to the middle class while driving income inequality to levels not seen in 80 years in this country. the failure to ask all americans to join in the sacrifices required to reduce our deficit flies in the face of logic and fairness and threatens to increase the growing gap between upper-income and middle-income families. democrats have proposed commonsense steps to address the failure to include more revenue and to promote shared sacrifice. we proposed restoration of the 39.6% tax bracket for the wealthiest americans who make nearly $400,000 a year or more.
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most democrats support the end of tax breaks for the massively profitable oil companies. we seek to close loopholes that now allow tax dodgers to hide income and assets in overseas tax havens to avoid the taxes that they rightly owe and to end tax breaks that let highly paid hedge fund managers enjoy a lower income tax rate than the rate that their employees pay. so far, too many have denied the need for these changes, that there is a chance at least that this legislation may finally force consideration of added revenues, added fairness to the tax code and the shared sacrifice that is so missing from the cuts in the legislation before us. now, why is that? under this legislation, we will face a stark choice. we must agree before the end of this year to deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion over ten years or stand by as an
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automatic budget cut kicks in to accomplish that goal. a bipartisan joint committee of 12 members of congress will meet and develop a deficit reduction plan that avoids those automatic cuts. that joint committee will have broad powers to review an propose changes to spending and to the tax code and to add revenue. revenues will finally be back on the table where they have always belonged. now, meeting that $1.2 trillion goal is not going to be easy but it is achievable. achievable, that is, if those who so far have been unwilling to compromise can recognize that revenue must be part of the equation. nobody should be eager for the automatic cuts that would otherwise take effect. many of those cuts would be unacceptably painful and
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damaging, but the very idea of those automatic cuts is that they are so unacceptable that few of us will want to see them enacted, and most of us will be willing to compromise in order to avoid them. congress used this approach once before. in 1985, we passed gramm-rudman-hollings which set forth specific deficit targets and required compromise if those targets were not met. the framework for today's legislation is based on that model. as one of the authors of the gramm-rudman-hollings act put it, senator gramm, -- quote -- "it was never the objective of gramm-rudman to trigger this sequester. the objective of gramm-rudman was to have the threat of the sequester force compromise and action." close quote. and it did.
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for example, in 1990, when facing the possibility of unacceptable cuts in defense and other important programs, president bush and bipartisan leaders in congress adopted a balanced deficit reduction plan that included significant new revenues. the damocles sword of the gramm-rudman-hollings deficit reduction act was the reason for that outcome. i believe that any plan from the bipartisan committee that fails the test of balance will have no chance of passage in the united states senate. that means that members of the committee must truly be willing to lead, to put aside partisanship and rigid ideology if we are to avoid triggering unacceptable cuts. success also is going to require presidential leadership and stronger use of his bully
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pulpit. democrats have demonstrated that we are willing to put forward serious deficit reduction proposals, plans that include painful cuts to important priorities. with a vote to approve this bill, which we must, it is my hope that we have reached the high tide of an ideological movement that has sought to hold tax cuts for the wealthy sacred while imposing increasingly draconian cuts on american families and threatened economic calamity if that movement did not get its way. the era of slashing programs that help middle-class americans with no shared sacrifice by the wealthiest among us, that era must end and give way to an era in which fairness and balance guide our efforts.
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passing this legislation today hopefully will drive us to make that transition. i thank the chair and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. hatch: would the senator yield? mr. paul: sure. mr. hatch: i would ask unanimous consent i be permitted to give my remarks immediately following the senator from kentucky. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: madam president, america will not default on her debt today. in fact, there was really never any doubt that america would pay her bills, but mark my words, america will default. america will default not by not paying its bills, not by not raising the debt ceiling, but we will default in a more insidious way. america will default by increasingly paying our bills with money that is worth less and less each year. a nation pays for its debt in three ways. we can either tax people, we can
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borrow the money or we can simply print the money. they all have repercussions. we are approaching our borrowing limit as a nation. we now owe china over a trillion dollars. we owe japan nearly a trillion dollars. we even owe mexico. as we reach our borrowing limit, interest rates will rise, and the prices in the stores will rise. you're already seeing this in your grocery stores. you're already seeing this in your gas prices. they are not rising de novo out of nothing. your prices are rising because the value of your dollar is falling. the value of your dollar is falling because they are printing up money to pay for this exorbitant debt. in 2008, we went through a banking crisis and we doubled the monetary supply in four months. doubling the money supply in four months. we bought things.
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the federal reserve bought toxic assets. they bought bad car loans and bad home loans. where once upon a time your dollar was backed by gold, your dollar is now backed by toxic assets. not a very comforting thought. many pundits are arguing that the tea party has won this battle. they misunderstand the debate. this battle isn't about winners and losers. it's about the future of our country. it's about saving ourselves from ourselves. we are headed towards ruin if we continue on this path of spending money we don't have. for decades, america has lived beyond her means. a nation that lives beyond her means will eventually live beneath her means. that day is coming. a day of reckoning looms. that day was never august 2. that day is when the dollar
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teeters and falls from its perch. that day is when prices soar. that day is when unemployment and a declining standard of living foment discontent and unrest in the street. as erskine bowles put it, there has been no more predictable crisis in our history. we have been given all the warning signs. it comes and this deal will not escape the facts that are looming for us. the president thinks that we need a balanced approach. well, america thinks we need a balanced budget and that we shouldn't spend money that we don't have, and that when american families have to balance their budget, why in the world would we not require our government to balance its budget? what america needs is a balanced budget and an economy that grows and thrives and creates jobs, and yet, a malaise hangs in the
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air. america is a ship without a captain. instead of the president chastising job creators and preaching class envy, we need a president that will show us leadership. the president needs to accept responsibility for an economy that has worsened under his failed leadership. unemployment is up. gas prices have doubled. and this president will add more debt than all 43 presidents combined. america got a deal on august 2 but not a solution. what america wants is a solution, not a deal. i hope in the next six months the president will find it within himself to lead the nation. the courage to lead and embrace reform, the reform that is necessary to get this great country going again. thank you, madam president. i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from utah.
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mr. hatch: madam president, i congratulate the senator from kentucky for his remarks on the floor and for allowing me this unanimous consent request. madam president, we're coming down to the wire here. we will soon be voting on a proposal that would couple some deficit reduction with an increase in the statutory debt limit. there are some positive features in this legislation, and the senate's minority leader, the speaker of the house, and the conservatives throughout the country should be commended for insisting on them. first, the president asked for a clean debt limit increase and conservatives refused. they held the line and made clear that any interest in the debt limit required matching deficit reduction. second, having lost the fight over a clean debt limit increase, the president insisted on a balanced approach to deficit reduction by which he meant reducing the deficit by raising taxes. the conservatives again fought this back. they knew that the primary driver of our debt is spending,
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and regardless of the president's talking points, nondefense discretionary spending is at historic levels. we are set for our third straight trillion dollar deficit. we have a national debt of over over $14.5 trillion, and the president's budget will give us us $13 trillion more in debt. the answer to this is not giving the government more money to spend, and third, conservatives resisted the effort by the president's allies to push most of the deficit reduction in this package down the road. so there are some achievements in this proposal that conservatives can hang their hat on, and i compliment speaker boehner and minority leader mcconnell for their work, but i regret to say thail not be able to support it because it does not sufficiently provide us with the solution to the debt crisis that the markets are commanding. last week, moody's made clear that the real threat to america's aaa rating is not
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default, which even the administration now acknowledges was never going to happen. the real threat after downgrade comes from a failure of will. it comes from the failure of presidential leadership in getting federal spending under control. there is a solution to this spending crisis. it is cut, cap and balance, which i was an early supporter of -- of which i was an early supporter. in addition to providing short-term relief by cutting and capping spending, it provides for a long-term solution for passage of a strong balanced budget amendment. now, this proposal falls well short of cut, cap, balance, and therefore i -- i reluctantly cannot support it. i would like to address a technical point about this package that raises concerns for me. whether the president is looking to the deficit reduction committee as an opportunity to raise taxes. he says that he is, as have some of my colleagues in the senate. i do -- i do believe that it will be very difficult, given
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the committee's charge to reduce the deficit, to raise marginal tax rates. however, i worry that some democrats will be looking at tax expenditures in order to hit the committee's required deficit reduction targets. now, this would be a mistake for a number of reasons. the president has referred to tax expenditures as -- quote -- "spending through the tax code." unquote. but rhetoric aside, tax expenditures are an opportunity for individuals and businesses to keep more of the money that they earn, and getting rid of tax expenditures without corresponding reductions in tax breaks will result in a net tax increase on the american people. the president would have you believe that getting rid of tax expenditures is acceptable because they only impact the rich. that is why it talks about bonus depreciation for jets and yachts used as second homes. yet, in a series of speeches, i have attempted to show that this rhetoric of class warfare might
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work politically, but as a description of tax reality, it is lacking. the fact is the largest tax expenditures though that the president and democrats would have to look to in order to raise revenue for deficit reduction benefit middle-class itemizers the most. consider the example of the home mortgage interest deduction. this is the most significant of the itemized deductions available to taxpayers. the mortgage interest deduction is the second largest tax expenditure identified by the joint committee on taxation. it is not -- it is not primarily a benefit for the wealthy. 30% of the benefit of the mortgage interest tax expenditure goes to taxpayers over $200,000. taxpayers with income below below $200,000 receive 70% of the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction. by a ratio of almost two to one, taxpayers under $200,000 benefit
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from the mortgage interest deduction. since $200,000 basically fits the definition of rich used by my friends on the other side of the aisle, we can see that the nonrich or ph*eulgz income group -- middle-income group disproportionately benefit from the mortgage interest deduction. the larger point is this, however, to the extent that the home interest deduction should be addressed by congress, it should be addressed through the context of a comprehensive revenue-neutral tax reform that lowers taxes and broadens the base. these tax expenditures should not be cherry-picked by the president and his liberal allies to pay for the giant checks that his administration has written. mr. president, i would like to make a last procedural point about where we go from here. even if congress passes and the president science this deficit-reduction package -- and the president signs this deficit-reduction package, we are going to be back at this again before the year is out.
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the president will be asking congress to raise the debt ceiling again. and given that, i would like once again to address the failure by the treasury department to respond to repeated requests i've made over the past week about treasury short-term cash position and the failure of every member of the so-called fsoc to provide congress with information about their contingency plans in the event there is a ratings downgrade on the u.s. debt in the future. does treasury still think it will run out of cash by midnight tonight? i've been given only limited information. treasury continues to say we will run out of cash today and will not be able to pay our bills the same date they estimated way back in may. treasury won't show me, the ranking member of the senate finance committee, how they are arrest raoeufrg at that estimate -- arriving at that estimate. i have not been informed, congress has not been informed and americans counting on timely
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social security payments have not been informed. almost every member of the fsoc including treasury and federal reserve refused to provide me with information. even if the debt limit is raised there is no assurance we won't face a downgrade. we need to know the government's plans. it should rise above politics. mr. president, as i've said repeatedly, this is unacceptable. i want to be clear about two things. first, congress will have to look into this matter very carefully and investigate whether treasury and most of our major financial regulators have been deliberately withholding information from congress. and if so, for what purposes. second, assuming that down the road treasury will present congress with another default date, i want to put them on notice that this fall i will be demanding timely substantiation of treasury's assessment and the government's cash position. absent this cooperation, i will stand in the way of any debt
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limit increase demanded by an unsubstan -- unsubstan khaeutd treasury closing deadline. mr. president, i want to be clear i cannot support the outcome of these negotiations but my concern is not over the tpheurb kwraeurbs of the -- initiation of the leaders of the house and president. it is the failed presidency of president obama. he and his a liars i had -- he and his a liars commited to more -- he and his allies are commited to more spending. mr. president, i ask that my full remarks be included in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon is
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recognized. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my intern rachel travis be permitted on the floor for the balance of this pending legislation. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. pherpl pherpl thank you. i rise -- america america i rise to -- mr. merkley: i rise to address the obama-boehner debt deal and it is an issue i have been immersed in, wrestling to understand the impact on unemployment, the impact on investments that will strengthen our nation down the road. certainly the impact on programs that strengthen our families. and it is in that context, trying to understand how do we build the strongest possible nation for working families, how do we do that. and is this obama-boehner debt deal the right path? and i must conclude that it is not the right path. and i conclude that for four
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reasons. the first is the impact on jobs. we are facing a gathering storm on the job front. we have five million to eight million additional foreclosures that are suppressing success of our construction market, driving down the value of houses and having a devastating impact on the attempts at recovery. second, the unemployment benefits, extended unemployment benefits expire this year. and the rough estimate is that that will result in the reduction of around 500,000 jobs. that's a tremendous blow in 2012. and then we have the termination of the payroll tax holiday and the estimates that may well produce losses of jobs of more than 900,000 across america. add them up together, and you're talking nearly 1.5 million jobs
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we will face. and that's in 2012. so on top of this gathering storm comes the obama-boehner debt deal that is estimated to produce another job loss and by varying estimates tpr-rbgs 100 -- from 100,000 to 300,000 additional jobs. mr. president, doesn't this deal take us in the wrong direction? shouldn't we be on this floor working to create jobs, not to destroy jobs? the success of our families depends on this. my second major reservation about the obama-boehner debt deal is its impact on working families through the concentration of cuts on the 18% of the budget that is the non-defense discretionary portion of the budget. this is the portion of the budget that involves head start, pell grants. in other words, opportunity for
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our children, our smallest children, skeg, university -- success, university education for our college-bound students. it's the area of the budget that involves investments in clean energy, small business programs, to support the success of small business. involves job training that helps families adjust to a changing dynamic in the economy, and so much more. in this 18% of the budget, that is where the cuts will hit. and with the phase 1 required cuts, or title 1 cuts, in combination with the cuts under title 3, you have essentially a 15% cuts from the 2011 march c.b.o. baseline. now understand that baseline for 2011 is a very low baseline, much lower than 2010, much lower than 2009. it takes us back many years earlier. you already have a very low baseline and we're going to cut 15% more out of the core programs supporting the success of our working families,
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supporting the success of our smallest children, supporting the success of our college-bound children. this is not the path that builds a stronger america. the third factor is that while our children in head start and our children headed for college and our citizens seeking job training are going to take these blows, the wealthy and well-connected don't contribute one slim dime. some of my colleagues have argued, well, you know what? there are some of those programs invented in the tax code that actually help the middle class. my colleague from utah was just making that argument. so don't touch any of those programs. well, if we take that same attitude towards our spending programs, we'd say some benefit the middle class, don't touch any of those programs.
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obviously it is an absurd argument. why is it made on the revenue side but not the programs on the appropriations bill? why is the tax bill protected in honor of that argument but the spending bills are not? one simple answer. the programs for the wealthy and well-connected are in the tax bill. and so this false argument is used to defend the cumulation of wealth, the expansion of prosperity for the few, for the powerful few at the expense of families across this nation. my fourth concern about the obama-boehner debt deal is that simply it was forged out of a process of extortion. if you look through the editorials, you see words like hostage-taking and extortion and lunacy. we only have to turn back to ronald reagan to remember what he had to say on this.
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he said this brinksmanship threatens the holders of bonds and those who rely on veterans benefits. markets would skyrocket, instability would occur and the federal deficit would soar. the united states has a special responsibility to itself and to the world to meet its obligations. those who have threatened for the first time in the u.s. history for the u.s. not to meet its obligations would result in devastating impact to those across this nation, those who carried out that threat did so in the wrong spirit, not the spirit of america pulling together, but in the spirit of creating a situation of hostage-taking and extortion designed to protect the most powerful and wealthy at the expense of families across this nation. so, mr. president, because this deal does damage to jobs and contributes to a gathering storm in 2012 that threatens to take us back into a double-dip recession, because the cuts are
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concentrated on the programs such as education and head start and pell grants that support the success of our children, success of our future economy, because it doesn't take one slim dime of contribution from those who are most able to contribute in our society, and because it was forged out of a fundamentally inappropriate use of extortion against the american family, for those four reasons i will oppose this deal. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri is recognized. mr. blunt: mr. president, i rise in support of the bill. i would say that for the second time in about a week i've come to the floor to speak after one of my friends on the other side who was talking about what we ought to be talking about, and both times they were right. they said we should be talking about private-sector job creation. but, mr. president, i'll just say where are the bills to do that with? we've been here the week of the
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4th of july we were here, and we had two votes that week. one was to compel the senators who didn't show up to show up. and the other one was on some motion to proceed to cloture on something that had nothing to do with job creation or any of the other things that we should be talking about. you know, we could talk about what we ought to be talking about, and that would be one thing. but of course what we are talking about today is the moment we have arrived at, the date that was set by the administration, and apparently they were right in speculating when we'd need to look at the borrowing limit again. and that's today. and i rise, mr. president, in support of the bill. i said for months the only thing worse than not raising the debt limit would be raising the debt limit and not changing behavior. and in fact, i think that's what all the rating agencies that everybody's talking about now, whether they're going to, how they're going to rate our bond
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rating in the future, they've all said, and they said long before they talked about the debt limit, that we're spending more money than we can afford to spend as a federal government or as a society. we're spending $1 out of $4 that the society can produce, and that's about 25% more than we spent in 2008. it's 25% more than we spent on the average from the 40 years from 2008 going backwards four decades. that's important. and i think this bill does begin the process of changing behavior. the way we approach the debt limit this time was anything but, was everything but business as usual. this is a totally different discussion than we've had before about the debt limit, and the country has almost always had debt. i think there have been only a couple of times in our history,
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andrew jackson paid off the debt. and there was one other time when we paid off the debt. only a couple of times in our history when we didn't have some kind of debt. and in the tradition of that debt, we've always just said, okay, let's borrow more money because we need more money. this time for the first time we said, why do we need more money? what is -- why is it that we're increasing debt? why is it we're increasing debt so rapidly? we had a $10 trillion debt in january of 2009. 30 months later we have a $15 trillion debt. obviously that trajectory can't continue, and the framework for the decision that's made in this bill says it won't continue. now we do continue to add debt over the next decade, but, mr. president, we wouldn't have to. there's a study out that says if
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every time the debt ceiling comes up over the next ten years, we'd make the same kind of determination that for every dollar we increase the debt ceiling, we're going to find a dollar in savings over the next decade. that study would indicate that in ten years we'd balance the budget. and of course, that's what we should be doing, balancing the budget. this body before i served here, before i served in the house, before i was in the congress at all, in 1995 came within one vote of the balanced budget amendment, one vote of passing the amendment that had passed the house. in 1996, it came within two votes of passing that same amendment that had passed the house again, and if that one vote would have changed in 1995 or the two votes would have changed in 1996, we wouldn't be having this discussion today. because we would have a balanced budget today and would be moving
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in the way that every state but one has to function and every family in america eventually has to come to grips with the fact that they can't spend more than they have. the truth is, mr. president, that this agreement, while it's a ten-year agreement, is only enforceable for a couple of years. i believe we will do what this agreement says this year and next year. i'm hopeful and optimistic that the select committee will do its job and come back with another trillion and a half or more of cuts to spending, and that's going to happen -- that select committee is going to report this year. the budget cap is set for this year and next year, but elections matter, and who is elected in 2012 to the house and the senate and the presidency will finally and ultimately make a decision about whether this --
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this track that we're on now gets better than it is now or frankly heads back in the other direction. the campaign pledges, mr. president, i think are important, and while i support the bill, i'm also fully appreciative of everyone who feels like they can't. and frankly, if some campaign pledges hadn't been made in 2010, we probably wouldn't be at this moment today. if that's -- if that's somehow an extraordinary thing that people run for office and they say that's what they're going to do and then they come here and do that, that is -- that is what the process is all about and how it's supposed to work. is this the -- my sense of what would have been the best way to deal with these spending cuts? we would have more spending cuts if i was writing this bill. but you know, the fact is in washington today no one party
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controls anything. my party, the republican party, controls one-third of what it takes to get a bill to become law. and the other party controls two-thirds, and at the end of the day by definition, nobody is going to be totally happy with this bill, but as senator pat roberts said yesterday in a meeting i was in, using an old legislative saying, this is not the best possible bill but it's the best bill possible. it is the best we can do right now. i think we take this victory, use it as a way to move forward to the future, and, mr. president, i rise again in support of this bill. mr. lieberman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut is recognized. mr. lieberman: i thank the chair. mr. president, i come to the floor to express my support for the measure before us like my colleague from missouri has just
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spoken, and like everyone else i have heard express their support for this proposal. no one seems perfectly satisfied with it, but that's inevitable, and i think we come to one of those classic moments on a very big challenge our nation faces, this enormous debt we have, of whether in this agreement we see the glass half full or the glass half empty. whether what encourages us in the agreement outweighs what disappoints us. and for me, the positive outweighs the negative. i'm going to vote for my hopes about what this agreement means as opposed to my fears that we're not doing enough in this agreement. what makes me most happy about it? this is a bipartisan compromise that really does turn the corner, turn the ship of america's state away from
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greater and greater deficits and a greater national debt and in the direction of balancing our budget once more, and the direction of re-establishing classic american values, of discipline and thrift and concern about our future and investment in our future which we have lost in our federal government through the work of both parties, executive and legislative branch of our government. it's a bipartisan agreement at a time when this chamber and this city have become reflexively and destructively partisan, and that's encourageing to me that it is bipartisan. it is a compromise at a time when this city has become ideologically rigid, and it's clear if you look at our history that we only make progress when
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we compromise. that's because we're such a big, diverse country with so many different opinions and points of view. so this is a bipartisan compromise, and it is a beginning of a long, hard march back to fiscal responsibility in our country, back to a balanced budget. so what troubles me about it? what troubles me about it is that the bipartisan compromise also represents a kind of bipartisan agreement by each party to yield to the other party's most politically and ideologically sensitive priority. in the case of democrats, it's to protect entitlement spending in the case -- entitlement spending. in the case of republicans, it's to not raise taxes. the reality is we have got to do some of both if we're going to get our country back into
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balance. and because this agreement doesn't really touch the entitlement programs, particularly medicare which is growing faster, bigger than any other government program, it -- it puts all the burden of getting back to a balance in our budget on the so-called discretionary spending part of the budget. that's about a third of federal spending. about 60% is the entitlement or mandatory program. so we have got here the beginning of a system that -- that forces cuts in a discretionary third of the budget, defense and nondefense, which they have to do. they have got to cut. but it doesn't really ask much of anything of the 60% that's growing so rapidly that's entitlement spending. and as a result, if the special committee created in this agreement, which is the great hope of the agreement, i think, doesn't work its will and
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involve itself in entitlement reform and tax reform and congress doesn't accept it, then the trigger, the automatic spending cuts are also all from discretionary spending, asking that third of the budget to pay the way, even though it's a small part of the responsibility for the increase in government spending, and that would have a devastating effect on our national security because it would dramatically undercut our defense, and also on some of the programs that are the great investment programs of our 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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,
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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, 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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, 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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? 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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earth. thank you, munanimous consent te quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: mr. president, i stand today to explain my reasons for voting against the debt limit increase that we will be voting on in just about a half an hour from now. this is a crisis that america faces. it's an ongoing crisis that will neither be created nor eliminated with today's vote. this is a crisis that has been building gradually over the course of years. decades, in fact. it's a crisis that we have certainly known about ever since this congress was sworn in in january of this year. this is a crisis that threatens potentially every federal program from defense to entitlements, because as we continue to borrow more money as a nation, adding to the already almost $15 trillion that we have accumulated in national debt,
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roughly $50,000 for every man, woman and child in america, roughly every $ -- $150,000 for every taxpayer in america. as we continue to add to that enormous debt, we get closer and closer to the unknown but nonetheless existing point at which we will no longer be able to borrow, at least not at interest rates that will make this kind of borrowing sustainable. if interest rates were to go up even to their historically average levels, within just a few years, we could be spending something closer to a trillion dollars every single year just to pay the interest on our national debt. we could be paying more than we pay on social security in an entire year, more than medicare and medicaid combined, more than national defense in an entire year. what happens when we get to that point? where does that money come from? the reality is that every federal program from defense to
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entitlements could see its coffers raided in an unfortunate draconian display of fiscal irresponsibility if we continue to punt this problem and not to address it. the legislation at issue today addresses this problem by perpetuating it. i am pleased, of course, that this legislation does certain things and has invigorated a new conversation in the sorts of strategies that need to be in place if we're ever going to address this problem on a long-term basis. seven or eight months ago, there were still people in this town in washington, d.c., who were saying things along the lines of we need another stimulus package or we need more federal spending of one sort or another. they are no longer saying that. now the discussion focuses not on whether to cut but how much. there is, of course, renewed discussion about the need for a balanced budget amendment, but talk is different than outcomes.
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what we need are outcomes. what we need is a fundamental change to the way we spend money in washington. what we need is to restrict congress' authority granted by clause 2 of article 1 section 8 of the constitution to incur debt in the name of the united states. that power needs to be restricted. the only way we can restrict that on a permanent basis, one that will bind not only this congress but future congresses that come after us is through an amendment to the constitution. this legislation raises the debt limit by about $2.5 trillion. this is a record-breaking sum. not too many years ago when i was in high school, this was roughly equivalent to our entire national debt. now through one piece of legislation, we're increasing, expanding our already huge national debt by roughly that same sum. and it doesn't contain any permanent binding structural
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spending reform mechanism of the sort that will be necessary to make sure that we get out of this problem, to make sure that we end the problem that we've created through congress' reckless pattern of perpetual deficit spending. that's why i have insisted since before i was even sworn into office that before we raise the debt limit, we need to pass a balanced budget amendment and submit it to the states for ratification. nearly every state balances its budget each and every year. it's not news when a state does this. i look forward to the time when it will no longer be news when congress does the same. now, there are significant cuts discussed in this legislation and proposed, but i want to be clear on one thing. although these cuts are large on a long-term basis, on a short-term basis, they are less so. on a short-term basis, within the next year, this proposes to cut about $7 billion, out of the
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fiscal year 2012 discretionary spending budget. some dispute this number and suggest as some of my colleagues have already that in fact the fiscal year 2012 budget will spend $23 billion more, others concede the point and say okay, let's assume for purposes of this discussion that it does, in fact, cut $7 billion from what otherwise would be new deficit spending. $7 billion is roughly equivalent to the amount of debt that we've added to our total debt portfolio just in the last 30 hours or so, roughly the period of time that has elapsed since this legislation was announced late sunday night until this very moment. because we're borrowing about $4 billion of new debt every single day. stated differently, this amounts to less than .2% of a
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cut. i do believe that we have made progress and i commend our leadership for working so hard to focus the discussion on the need for cuts. we have, unfortunately, had democratic leadership in this body that has been bent on delaying the announcement of any deal as long as possible and preventing legislation like the cut, cap and balance act from coming to the floor where it could have been stowdged an open debate, discussion, and amendment process as well it should have been. i regret the fact that it didn't come to that. the fact that that legislation which could have solved this problem, could have and would have put us on a path towards fiscal responsibility towards ending this problem once and for all was not even allowed its day, its day this the u.s. senate could be debated and discussed on the merits. at the end of the day, we have to come to terms with the fact
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that the course we're on from a fiscal standpoint is utterly unsustainable. adding more debt to our already bursting portfolio of debt is only going to contribute to this problem unless, of course, we move forward and adopt a balanced budget amendment. i believe the time to do that is right now. the american people overwhelmingly support this. to the tune of about 75%. to my great astonishment, some of my colleagues and even the president of the united states have suggested that this is somehow a radical idea, an idea that is so radical as to be absurd and not worth considering a balanced budget amendment, even though three out of every four americans believes we need a balanced budget amendment. i want to close by referring to a quote by a man named william morris who in the late 1800's gave us the following quote. ""one man with a dangerous idea
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is in danger of being a madman. two men can be foolish but hardly mad. 10 men sharing an idea begin to action. 100 draw attention as fanatics. 1,000 in society begins to tremble. 100,000 and there is war abroad. and the cause has victories tangible and real. and why only 100,000? why not 100 million and peace upon the earth? you and i who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question." it's not just one or two of us who have this idea in our head that we need to restrict congress' borrowing power because that power has been so severely abused over such a long period of time. it's three out of every four americans, and i urge each of my colleagues in the senate and each of our counterparts in the house of representatives to join the american people in at least the same proportion in
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supporting the idea that never again should we raise the debt limit without a balanced budget amendment in place. this is a permanent, long-term problem. it requires a permanent solution. the only permanent solution is that which involves an amendment to the constitution. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: i will support this legislation but with very serious reservations. i start with the premise this debt limit extension is not the one piece of legislation that will change everything wrong in washington. it is at best a reversal of previous tax-and-spend policy with some movement down the road to fiscal responsibility. the bill sets us on a course that if we adhere to it, will eventually enable us to balance our budget.
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draw down our debt, put entitlement programs on a sustainable path, and create the conditions for strong economic growth. that it could have been better is absolutely true, as a substantive matter. but politically, the white house and the tax-and-spend democrats in congress would not agree to more. they control this chamber, and the executive branch of government. a second premise of republican leadership was that the united states government must pay its bills, not just to investors in u.s. bonds but to fulfill commitments to the american people. from social security to national defense, we have obligations that republicans insist must be met. so default was not an option. that meant agreeing to terms for debt extension that satisfied neither party. a third premise for republicans was that we must focus on job
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creation and restoring a healthy economy. that meant not only con strange washington's spending -- constraining washington's spending through greater accountability but preventing job-killing tax hikes and in this we succeeded. and contrary to some public talk there is nothing in this legislation that what would cause future tax increases. if there were, i wouldn't support this legislation. so with this legislation we've prevented tax increases demanded by the president, cut spending over the next 10 years, and created a mechanism to address additional savings especially in programs like medicare, medicaid, and social security. all of which will eventually default on their commitments without reform. and we averted a credit crisis for the united states government. here's why i have such serious reservations about the legislation.
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in an effort to extract a pound of flesh from republicans, the white house, frustrated that it couldn't raise taxes, insisted on massive cuts in defense spending, some $350 billion by white house reckoning over the next 10 years. potentially, $18 billion less than the president's own budget just for next year. moreover, the white house insisted that defense suffer an additional $492 billion in cuts over the same period if the select committee set up by this bill fails to produce or congress refuses to adopt recommendations on how to cut overall government spending to meet the goals of the bill. mind you, these cuts in defense were not the result of careful planning and analysis. they were just arbitrary percentages thrown out in
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negotiations, totally unconnected to actual defense requirements. worse, the cuts that would be triggered if the committee recommendations failed were intentionally designed to be so large, so unimaginable, so irresponsible that congress would be inseptemberred to -- incented to approve the committee recommendses. the phrase "armageddon" was used to characterize this scheme. can you imagine anything more irresponsible than for the commander in chief of the military to promote, not just promote but insist on the knowing destruction of the u.s. military as a means to threaten congress? the theory was the consequences of inaction by congress must be so severe that no responsible senator or representative could dare allow the result, that we would be forced to accept the select committee's recommendations on pain of seeing the u.s. military
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decimated. this should never have been agreed to by members of congress. but most of all, should never have been promoted by the president. to me, it comes close to violating our oath of office and the president's responsibilities as commander in chief. but it is done. my vote will not change it. the best way for me to avoid this armageddon is to stay in the fight and if necessary, urge my colleagues to disregard this provision. 60 senators would have to agree. but i cannot imagine senators evened the president when faced with the actual versus the hypothetical choice of knowingly to destroy the military of the united states to knowingly allow it to happen when we would be able to prevent it. as reckless as this president is to congressional testimony plate
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much less contemplate our military, i cannot imagine the american people would countenance such action. as i evaluate the work of the committee, if anyone says to me well, remember the trigger is armageddon for the u.s. military, my response will be let's take that debate to the american people and let them decide. the thought that this trigger would force senators to make unwise concessions underestimates the american people's commitments to their own security. the white house has miscalculated. it is so draconian that it will not work, even this president could not implement it. so, because we cannot default on our commitments, because we have to start somewhere on our new journey towards fiscal sanity and this is a good start, because we have to focus on job creation, not more taxes that will kill job creation, we should adopt this legislation.
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but because of its irresponsible and dangerous, even cavalier treatment of national defense, we will need to work very hard to restore spending necessary for our national security and commit to reject the threat of arm ged don inserted into this -- armageddon inserted iniding officer: the the senator from kentucky. mr. mcconnell: over the past few weeks congress has been engaged in a very important debate. it may have been messy, it might have appeared to some like their government wasn't working, but in fact the opposite was true. the push and pull americans saw in washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. it was the will of the people working itself out and a political system that was never meant to be pretty. you see, one reason america isn't already facing the kind of crisis we see in europe is that
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presidents and majority parties here can't just bring about change on a dime. as much as they might like to from time to time. that's what checks and balances is all about. and that's the kind of balance americans voted for in november. the american people sent a wave of new lawmakers to congress in last november's election with a very clear mandate: to put our nation's fiscal house in order. those of us who'd been fighting the big-government policies of democratic majorities in congress welcomed them into our ranks. together we've held the line, and slowly but surely we've started turning things around. that's why those who think that
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no problem is too big or too small for government to solve are very worried right now. they're afraid the american people may actually win the larger debate we've been having around here about the size and the scope of government. and that the spending spree may actually -- actually be coming to an end. they can't believe that those who stood up for limited government and accountability have actually changed the terms of the debate here in washington. but today they have no choice but to admit it. now, i know that for some of our colleagues, reform isn't coming as fast as they would like, and i certainly understand their frustration. i, too, wish we could stand here today enacting something much more ambitious. but i'm encouraged by the thought that these new senators will help lead this fight until we finish the job.
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and i want to assure you today that although you may not see it this way, you've actually won this debate. in a few minutes the senate will vote on legislation that represents a new way of doing business in washington. first, it creates an entirely new template for raising the nation's debt limit. one of the most important things about this legislation is the fact that never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the american people. and, in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we've just come through, because, you see, mr. president, whoever the next president is will be back asking to rates debt ceiling again. it will provide another opportunity for us to focus on
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the subject raised by the request to raise the debt ceiling. so we will be back at it, probably in the early part of 2013, trying to continue to make progress toward reducing the size and scope of government and reducing our spending. this kind of discussion isn't something to dread. it's something to welcome. and while the president may not have particularly enjoyed this debate we've just been thriewrks it was a debate that washington very much needed to have. as for the ticks, this legislation -- as for the particulars, this legislation caps spentdzing with a mechanism that ensures that these cuts tooley stick. it protects the american people from government default that would have affected every single one of them in one way or another. it puts in place a powerful joint committee that will recommend further cuts and much-needed reforms. it doesn't include a dime, not
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a dime in job-killing tax hikes at a moment when our economy can least afford them. and crucially, it ensures the debate over a balanced budget amendment continues and that it actually gets a vote. now, this is no small feat when you consider that just last week the president was still demanding tax hikes as part of any debt ceiling increase, and that as recently as may, the president's top economic advisors said it was, quote, "insane," end quote for anybody to even consider tying the debt ceiling to spending cuts. it's worth noting that 2 1/2 months later that advisor is no longer working at the white house, and the president is now agreeing as a condition of raising the debt ceiling to trillions of dollars in spending cuts. so let me be clear. the legislation the senate is about to vote on is just a first
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step, just a first step. but it is a crucial step towards fiscal sanity and it's potentially remarkable achievement given the lengths to which some in washington have gone to ensure a status quo that's suffocating growth, crippling the economy and imperfectlying entitlements. now, we've had to settle for less than we wanted. but what we've cheefd is in no -- achieved is in no way insignificant and we did it because we had something democrats didn't have. republicans may only control one half of one-third of the government in washington but the american people agreed with us on the nature of the problem. they know that government didn't accumulate $14.5 trillion in debt because it didn't tax enough. and if you're spending yourself into oblivion, the solution isn't to spend more, it's to spend less.
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now, neither side got everything it wanted in these negotiations. but i think it was the view of those in my party that we try to get as much spending cuts as we could from a government we didn't control. our view was we'd get as much spending reduction as we could from a government we didn't control. and that's what we've done with this bipartisan agreement. this is not the deficit reduction package i would have written. the fact that we're on a pace to add another $7 trillion to the debt over the next ten years is certainly nothing to celebrate. but getting it there from more than $9 trillion the president continued to defend until recently is no defeat, either. and slowing down the big-government freight freezing rain its current trajectory will give us the time we need to work toward a real solution or give the american people the time they need to have their voices heard.
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so much work remains. and to that end, our first step will be to make sure that republicans who sit on the powerful cost-cutting committee are serious people who put the best interests of the american people and the principles that we've fought for throughout this debate first. but before we move to the next step, i'd like to say a word about some of those who made today's vote possible. and i'll start with speaker boehner. it should be noted that he helped set the terms of this debate by insisting early on that we oppose any debt limit that didn't include cuts that were greater than the amount the debt limit would be raised. and he stuck to his guns. mr. speaker and i worked should to should over the past few months and it's certainly been a pleasure. he's been a real partner and i assure my colleagues we wouldn't be here without him. so i want to thank the speaker
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and the entire republican leadership in the house for standing on principle, and i want to thank my republican colleagues here in the senate for their determination, their ideas, and their support. we wouldn't be here without them, either. and i want to thank my friend, the majority leader, for his work in getting this agreement over the finish line. we may disagree a lot, but i hope everyone realizes it's never, ever personal. and i think today we can prove that when it comes down to it, we'll get together when the greater good is at stake. i also want to thank the president and the vice president. and everyone on their staffs who believed as we did that despite our many differences, we could all agree that america would not default on its obligations. it's a testament to the goodwill of those on both sides we were able to reach this agreement in
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time. neither side wanted to see the government default, and i'm pleased we were able to work together to avoid it. now, this bill does not solve the problem. but it at least forces washington to admit that it has one. the bill doesn't solve the problem, but it forces washington to admit that it has one. and it puts us on a path to recovery, where -- we're nowhere near where we need to be in terms of restoring balance but there should be absolutely no doubt about this: we have changed the debate, we're headed in the right direction, and people are wondering how it happened. well, it happened because the american people demanded it. so in the end, we're back to where we started. the only reason we're talking about passing legislation that
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reins in the size of washington instead of growing it is because the american people believed they could have a real impact on the direction of their government. they spoke out, and we heard them. and it's only through their continue he participation in this process and lawmakers who are willing to listen to them that we'll complete the work we've begun. as winston churchill once said, "courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." swrat of a -- i can't think of a better way to sum of this last year and in particular these last few months right here in washington than that. the american people want to see accountability and cooperation in washington, and they want to see that they're working together to get our fiscal house in order. this legislation doesn't get us there, but for the first time in a very long time, i think we
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can say to the american people that we're finally facing in the right direction, and for that, we have them to thank. mr. reid: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader, the senator from nevada. mr. reid: the eyes of washington and the world have been watching washington this past week very closely. while they witnessed a lot of political wrangling they also saw congress make some historic, important decisions. and averted a default on our debt that has been so concerning to all of us for such a long period of time. our country was literally on the verge of a disaster. it was on the brink of a disaster. one day left, we were able to get together and avert that disaster. now, this compromise that we've reached is not perfect. and i feel it's important --
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mr. president, can we have order, please. the presiding officer: the senate will please come to order. we welcome all our visitors and want to make it clear think disturbance or manifestation of approval or disapproval is prohibited under the senate rules. the majority leader may proceed. mr. reid: i appreciate the kind words that my counterpart mr. mcconnell has stated on the floor, i've gotten to know him and speaker boehner a lot better this past month or two. especially the speaker. even though i disagree vehemently with the direction the speaker's legislation took with no bipartisan support at all, it is not the product we have here. the product we have here is one of compromise. the winners, without trying to outline who the winners are, there is principally one winner through this, and ities american people. we settled for less than what we
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wanted, so do did my friend, the leader of the republicans, settle for less than they wanted. that's the way legislation works, the way compromise works. but i can't let go without responding to my friend who boasted about in his own way about this -- the new senators and the new members of congress who came here. i welcome them all, but a result of the tea party direction of this congress the last few months has been very, very disconcerting, and very unfair to the american people. it stopped us at arriving at a conclusion much earlier and we must go forward. and also, mr. president, i recognize we have to do more. of course we need to do more. and that's why we have the joint committee set up that i'll talk about in just a minute. the american people are not impressed with the new revenue. the vast majority of democrats,
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independents, and republicans think this arrangement we've just done is unfair because the richest of the rich have contributed nothing to this. the burden of what has taken place is on the middle class, and the poor. my friend talks about new taxes. mr. president, if their theory was right, these huge taxes that took place during the bush eight years, the economy should be thriving. these tax cuts have not helped the economy. the loss of eight million jobs during the bush eight years, two wars started, unfunded, all borrowed money, these tax cuts all on borrowed money. if the tax cut were so good, the economy should be thriving. if you go back to the prior eight years, during president clinton's administration, 23 million new jobs were created. we had when president bush took office a surplus over 10 years
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of $7 trillion. that has evaporated and now we're talking about a $14 trillion debt. the compromise we reached is imperfect. and we're going to send legislation to the president today that will not only avert a default but make significant deficit reductions. is it enough? i repeat, no, not enough. this legislation will provide our economy with stability it desperately needs and to assure congress we will continue working -- and i said this yes, i say it again -- i appreciate my friend, the republican leader, putting his arms around the idea that i came up with to have this joint committee. they've worked in decades past, there's no reason it can't work now. no supermajority, each leader will appoint three, a committee of 12. we need to do something because the trigger that kicks in is very, very difficult. we need to do this. and it has to be one that's fair. the american people demand
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fairness. it can't be more cuts to programs that have made this country what it is. there must be a sharing of sacrifice. it's really unfair for billionaires and multimillionaires not to be contributing to the arrangement that we've just made, but they're not. my friends, the republicans, held firm. and no revenue, which is really too bad. we need to have a fair approach 0 this joint committee and i'm confident we will do that. and one reason we're going to do that is because the trigger mechanism that kicks in. now, this committee that was going to have -- be appointed, the members i say here must have open minds. we've had too much talk the last few days of republicans as early as this morning, republican leaders in the senate saying there will be no revenue. that's not going to happen. otherwise, the trigger is going to kick in.
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the only way we can arrive at a fair arrangement for the american people with this joint committee is to have equal sharing. it's going to be painful. each party if they do the right thing, it's going to be painful for them because to be fair, we have to move forward. there has to be equal spending cuts, there has to be some revenue that matches that. the legislation is going to be sent to the president today ends a stand-off that ground the work of washington to a halt this summer. so congress must now return to its most important job, creating jobs. now, mr. president, there are things we can do to create jobs. we know that. we passed out of here quickly the patent bill. 270,000 jobs we're told that legislation will create. so we'll move to that first time we get back to that after the summer break. we're going to move to the patent legislation. important we do that. there are other things we can
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do. there are things out there that should be bipartisan in that it that we can do. we have a highway bill that's due. i've spoke to the chair -- the chairman of the finance committee today. there are ways we can fund that that should be in keeping with a bipartisan approach to this. the important part, the important thing that we have mr. president, with these infrastructure jobs we need so very much is that for every billion dollars we spend in infrastructure, we create 47,500 high-paying jobs. a lot of other jobs spin off from that. these aren't jobs you have a billion dollars and have you all these jobs are jobs that the federal government does. these are moneys that go to the private sector to build roads and bridges and dams. we need to do that and we can do that. clean energy jobs. they're changing the face of this nation. we need to do that.
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i'm optimistic and hopeful that the spirit of compromise has taken root in washington over the last several days will endure. i hope my republican colleagues will join forces with democrats to bring america back to work an not be looking for winners and political parties. let's start looking for winners with the american people. we've made progress toward cutting the goal -- we made progress toward our goal of cutting the deficit spending that we have around here. this nation still faces a jobs deficit as well. there's no issue more important to the american people than job creation. tell every american who chooses to work and find a job, our job is undone. so we're going to continue making jobs our number-one priority. we ask the republicans to join with us in this regard. adlai stevenson once called politics "the people's birks the most important business there is." that's what adlai stevenson
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said. so, mr. president, it's time for congress to get back to doing the people's business, creating jobs. nothing is more important than that. mr. president, i ask for the yeas and nays on my motion to concur.
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