tv U.S. Senate 10182017 CSPAN October 19, 2017 3:39am-4:52am EDT
consent that my intern be granted privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. our nation was founded on a principle encapsulated in the first three and most important words of our constitution -- we the people. our founders wanted to have a nation that didn't work for the benefit of the powerful and the privileged, but for decisions by the people, for the people, as president lincoln so eloquently described our nation. not a nation by and for the powerful, not a nation by and for the privileged, but by and for the people. tomorrow, a bill is coming to the floor that couldn't be more of a buy and for the powerful bill than we have seen on the floor of the senate before.
a bill completely contrary, the fundamental values embedded in our constitution. now, this bill is a budget bill, and at its heart it says we're going to do $5 trillion of tax cuts almost completely for the richest americans, and we're going to do so by gutting programs that make america work for working americans. now, the president said when it comes to tax reform, i want to help the middle class. i'm not going to do anything for the rich and powerful. then why, i ask you, is this bill coming to the floor of the senate completely for the rich and powerful? president trump, come before the american people. explain how you can make a promise that you're going to do tax reform for the middle class, and you put a bill on the floor of the senate that is all about
benefits, raiding the national treasury for the rich and powerful. how do you explain this complete opposite? what a complete pretense we have to say that this bill is about helping american workers when it's all about the rich and powerful. the republican budget plan not only has five-plus trillion dollars virtually all in giveaways for the rich and powerful, but it proceeds to cut health care for older americans, a cut of $1 trillion in medicaid no working americans. now, that's a whole lot of damage done to ordinary americans who just want peace of mind, that when their loved one
gets sick, when their loved one gets injured, they'll get the care they need. it's peace of mind -- is peace of mind too much to ask from our national health care system? are my colleagues so callous, so out of touch, so cruel that they want to fund tax cuts for the richest americans by destroying health care, diminishing health care for our seniors? and not just our seniors but our citizens on medicaid in oregon, that's the oregon health plan. it serves the poorest among us. many of them working part time jobs that have no health care plan. many of them working shifts that are determined at the last second, some of the most stressful jobs in america are at the very bottom, some of the most stressful work schedules are at the very bottom, and we're going to cut not just a trillion -- a trillion dollars for medicaid and half a trillion
from medicare. wow. and then let's look at the other programs that would be devastated by this republican budget in order to fund that $5 trillion in tax cuts almost all for the wealthiest americans. the senate budget committee democratic staff said if those cuts in the republican budget are extended evenly, distributed reductions, it would have the following impact. it would eliminate housing assistance for more than a million families. it would eliminate heating assistance for nearly 700,000 seniors on fixed incomes. it would eliminate nutrition assistance by more than $100 billion, a 33% cut. in other words, translate that, a lot more hunger in an already hungry america.
it would slash pell grant funding by more than $100 million, eliminate head start services for 25,000 children in an average year, cut mandatory transportation funding by $200 billion, cut funding for the national institutes of health by $37 billion all to give a massive tax giveaway to the richest americans. now, if the president is proceeding to say that this is a plan for the middle class, then you would expect virtually all the benefit to go to the middle class. but what do we actually have? four out of -- $4 out of $5 benefits go to the top 1% and half of that, 40% goes to the top one-tenth of 1%. why should there be one single
penny going to the very richest americans in a nation in which we should be striving for a foundation for every family to thrive? and we know that to thrive, our children have to have food to eat. we need to have health care programs that create peace of mind. we need to make sure our seniors have a strong foundation in their retirement. but instead we see all those programs, including the opportunity for college through pell grants, being raided for this massive give away to the top 1%. president trump, come before the american people and explain how it's possible that you can claim you're doing a plan for middle class america and you're sending virtually the entire benefit to the top 1% of americans. this budget resolution,
associated tax plan, it's one of the most egregious examples of rigging the system of america for the powerful and privileged rather than government of, by, and for the people. well, i'm here today to stand up and say not one penny to the top 1%. if you want a fair plan for america, it would be not one penny for the top 1%. if you want to strengthen the middle class, there would be not one penny to the top 1%. not one penny for billionaires while we gut medicare and medicaid. not one penny for billionaires when middle-class families' taxes would go up under this plan. not one penny for our billionaires while we destroy programs and safety nets and opportunities for education from
headstart to pell grants to attend college. we could do a great deal of good to invest in america. we could invest in transportation. we have an incredible number of bridges and roads that need repairs. we can put an incredible number of people to work building middle class jobs and middle class incomes through building infrastructure instead of a giveaway o of the national treasury to the top 1%. by investing more than a trillion, we can create millions of good-paying american jobs. more than 56,000 bridges in america, one out of 11, is structurally deficient. engineers estimate we could easily spend $123 billion on repairing bridges and $420 billion modernizing highways, and that we get a return back to
our economy with lower vehicle maintenance, decreased delays, lowered fuel consumption, improved safety, lower long-term maintenance costs and lower emissions, all benefits of investing in transportation in addition to the fact that it strengthens our economy. we can think about the investment we need to have in our water infrastructure. the water supply systems. and certainly the wastewater treatment, a problem in virtually every town across america. what about all those lead pipes that need to be replaced? 2,000 years ago, the romans were poisoned by their own water because they lined their aquaducts with lead. and here we are 20 centuries later poisoning our citizens with lead pipes. why aren't we spending money to take care of that problem? and it's not just a problem in flint. it's a problem in hundreds of cities across this country.
and if we want america to thrive, why not invest in rural broadband? why not create high speed broadband in every rural town and village across this nation that strengthens that economy, that gives people the ability to build their businesses in smal smalltown rural america instead of spending trillions of dollars in tax giveaways to the very richest americans? how about an investment in our students, not decreasing pell grants, strengthening pell grants to make it possible for more people to attend college without ending up with a debt the size of a home mortgage. it's a real possibility to create debt-free college at our public universities. why don't we do that? that will strengthen the foundation for every family to thrive. good jobs, good education, good infrastructure, not the theft from the american treasury of $4
trillion to $5 trillion for the very richest americans. that's what's being proposed here. has there ever been a train robbery as audacious as this theft of the national treasury for the richest americans? has there ever been a bank robbery as audacious and outrageous as this theft of the american treasury for the richest 1% of americans? here on the floor, we should be wrestling with how to create a foundation for every family in america to thrive, not considering a bill that wipes out health care, wipes out pell grants, does damage to every conceivable thing that would make this nation stronger in order to give the billionaires more zeros in their bank accounts. this bill is destructive.
it's shameful. and it's contrary to the very principle of our constitution of government of, by, and for the people. this bill is government of, by, and for the 1%. it must not stand. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: thank you, mr. president. i'm really happy the senate is engaged in this debate on tax policy. it actually is long overdue. it's been 30 some odd years since this country's undertaken a massive reform of our tax code, and it's interesting to go back and think what life was like back in 1986. it was just a different planet, different world, different economics. and so at a minimum, our code needs to be modernized. but everybody has run on that. everybody who runs for office, certainly every candidate for president from both parties over two decade has run on the promise of tax reform and the
need for it. so this is a really important debate. and so people understand who are watching at home, the budget is not -- you and i at home think of a budget as something you're going to spend money on. that's -- it's a framework under the parameters the government would spend its money. then you have to go out and actually spend it through a separate process called appropriations. so this budget creates the framework of how we're going to spend money in the year to come, and then it's going to be used as a vehicle to pass tax reform, which is obviously the way and the system under which we generate revenue for the government to pay for the things that we need to be paying for. that's the first debate. but obviously the debate on the budget has already led us to this debate on tax reform because that's the purpose, that's the primary purpose it's being used for this year as a vehicle for it. why does that matter? there's a lot of speeches already on tax reform and how bad the bill is and this is a giveaway for this group of people or that group of people.
that's hard to do because there's still not a bill. the reason there's still not a bill is it's going to be worked through the normal process of the senate. that was the criticism, for example, from my friends on the other side and many outside of this building and the press. the criticism was you guys put together a health care plan and you didn't even go through committee and no one had any input. there were no public hearings. that's what they're going to do with tax reform and that's what's going to produce a bill. the only thing put out is a framework and it basically says these are some of the ideas we have. this is our starting point that we want to operate from. but we're going to go through the committee process and there's going to be votes and and opportunity to weigh in and make differences. if that we intend to produce a tax bill. and so you can criticize the framework, i suppose, but to basically go out and start trying to convince people that there's a tax bill that will do this versus that when it's just not true and when you have a seat here in the senate and potentially on the committee where you can actually weigh in about the specifics of what's going to be in the bill and
what's not, i think it's unfair and disingenuous. in any event, that's kind of the way things go nowadays. i look forward to that debate. the second thing that's been an interesting development is to hear people talking about how horrible this is going to be. this is going to add to the debt and all of a sudden a bunch of people who never had any problem spending as much money as they possibly could out of the federal treasury are suddenly becoming deficit hawks. here's what's so interesting. if we were to turn around and say forget about tax reform. we'll take $1.5 trillion the next ten years and use it, debt spending -- we're going to borrow and fund all the things the government is going to do for example, one of our colleagues has offered a plan to provide health care for everyone in america paid for by the federal government. that would cost tens of trillions of dollars ove. over a dozen members of the senate have signed on to it as a plan. there's no plan to pay for it. not $1.5 trillion like the tens of trillions over the next dozen
years. a lot of concern there. it kind of boils down to we're prepared to spend it but if this is money we're going to take and give it to you to spend, that's a real problem and irresponsible. that's kind 6 the framework. the second point i would make on the debt is i believe the debt is a significant threat to the future of the united states. the problem is we can't tax our way out of it and we can't simply grow our way out of it. we have to do a combination of things. the first is we have to grow our economy, and the second thing we have to do is bring some constraint to future spending. not slash medicare, not get rid of social security. my mother is on social security and medicare. this may surprise many people watching, but there are a significant number of people in my whole state of florida on social security and on medicare. as i said, my mother is one of them. i'm an enormous supporter of these programs. i also look at these programs and i look at the number of people going into it and how long they are going to live, and the math tells you these programs are going to have some big problems in the years to come which threaten not just to
take them down but threaten to trigger a debt crisis in america. so we have to deal with the spending side and create a more disciplined way of spending in the future years to bring some certainty, but we also have to grow the economy. in essence, if you just take a stagnant economy, no cuts in the world are going to get you there. you can't just simply cut your way and can't simply tax your way. the only solution to our debt problem and it happens to be good for america all around is the combination of discipline on future spending combined with rapid, robust, and sustained economic growth. and as much as anything else, this effort of tax reform is, among other things, an effort to generate sustained economic growth, and to do so in a unique period in the history of the world. this is not 1986. we are not -- our economy is not the only show in town anymore. there are now dozens of developed economies around the world that following our example from the 1980's reduce taxes, reduce regulations, frankly made investments in infrastructure and the like, and today they are
no longer recipients of our aid. they are no longer nations looking to work with the united states to get a little closer to the way we are. they are full-blown competitors in the global economy. so every four years, -- every two years, actually, once in the winter and the next two years in the summer, we send our best fleets in different events to the olympics to compete. in our economy, it is the olympics every single day. and what makes it even more complicated is that sometimes our team isn't just made up of americans. our team is partnered with the japanese team to create a company or the mexican team to create a manufacturing chain. so that complicates it further. but the fundamental thing to understand is america today is in a competition. and by the way, a competition that doesn't have to be one where they lose and we win or we lose and they win, but a competition nonetheless. and every day, businesses, investors, ideas, people with ideas are making a decision where do i want to do this activity? where do i want to create this new job? where do i want to create this
new company? where do i want to innovate this new idea and where do i hire people to do all this? do i do it in america or do i do it somewhere else? and we are not performing well in that competition. it's not just because of taxes. we have infrastructure problems that we have to confront. we have a higher education system that is not built for the 21st century. we are not teaching people in sufficient numbers the skills they need for some of the best jobs in the world. look, i have no problem with a four-year degree from a liberal arts college. that should always be an option on the menu. but we need a lot of plumbers and pipefitters and electricians and people that can do -- welders. these are important jobs as well, and in fact oftentimes pay a lot more than a four-year degree in political science will ever pay you. we need to do a better job of training people in those fields as well. we need to have an immigration system that's pro-american, a pro-american economy that allows us to compete for the best talent in the world. if you think about it, i don't see anybody complaining that their team just signed a guy
that can throw 98-mile an hour fastballs but he is from the dominican republic. in sports, we go out and find the best people. we should be able to do that in our economy as well, and you can do that without hurting the american worker. we also have to have a tax code that's competitive. it cannot be substantially more complicated and expensive to start a business or operate one in america than it is somewhere else, because if we do that, we will lose. and that as much as anything else in this global economy is hurting the american people. you talk about putting america first. i think it's about allowing america to compete. i'm not asking for an unfair advantage over other countries. we're just asking for a fair chance to compete because i believe the american people, given the chance to compete, can outthink, outinnovate and outwork anybody in the world, and our tax code is a key part of it. and so the goal here, when you hear a lot of this talk about businesses getting this without deduction, is we want to make america an attractive place to invest. we don't want people taking that money and investing all of it in
another country. we want them to invest it here, invest it here to allow a company to grow and hire more people. we want companies to decide this is the place we want to hire, this is the place we want to innovate. we have to have a tax code that reflects that. we have to understand that the vast majority of american businesses don't pay taxes the way the big companies do. they pay the small businesses through passthroughs. and a lot of these -- you know them because i know them. these are not sophisticated operations. they are successful but they don't have an army of lawyers to deal with a complicated tax code and accountants that know every trick in the book. to them, the tax code hurts them, especially since they are paying on their personal rates. and that's why the personal side is related to the business side. these are things that we need to deal with so we can be competitive, so we can have more taxpayers. not more taxes. more taxpayers. more people making more money, not just improves the quality of life, it generates more revenue to pay for the bridges, the roads, and the national security of the united states of america. so tax reform, as much as
anything else, is the growth side of this endeavor, and it is not the only thing we need to do, but it is an important thing we need to do if we are going to let america compete and win in the 21st century global economy. there's another dynamic of the 21st century that's different from 1986. and from that i rely heavily on my own personal experience, not just today but growing up. in 1986 -- what would that have been? ninth grade or something. my parents, my mom worked at kmart, and my father was a bartender in miami. we owned a home. we didn't have everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed. and they were able to sustain a family and allow us to go to school, public school, go on to college, and all -- and do those sorts of things on the salary of a bartender and a stock clerk at kmart. i don't need to tell anybody here that there isn't a community in the country at this point in the 21st century where my parents could achieve the standard of living that they had in 1986.
for two reasons. everything costs more, and those jobs either don't exist anymore or have not kept pace with that cost of living. now, throughout -- since the year 2000 up until today, my wife jeanette and i have been raising four children in the 21st century. i enter it by telling you while we certainly have been blessed to have more resources available to us than the vast majority of people who will be impacted by what we're about to do here, i certainly have enough people in our lives and have certainly had periods in our lives where we understand some of the challenges facing people today. and here's the bottom line. raising children in the 21st century is more expensive than raising children at any point in the history of this country, and the reason is there are more things to pay for. i know people may tell you that wi-fi and access to the internet is a luxury. i'm sorry. you can't do homework in the 21st century with your kids if
you don't have access to the internet. and that costs money. not only do you have to have access to the internet, you have to have access to it in a mobile device, and those mobile devices cost money. those data plans cost money. if you don't -- if you're paying for a data plan, you know how much they cost. it's not just about watching movies on netflix or talking to your friends on snapchat. you literally didn't do homework in many of the schools in this country in the 21st century unless you have access to it. that's why i have personally witted people at mcdonald's -- witnessed people at mcdonald's at 6:30 in the evening because they have wi-fi and the single mom or single dad is there helping their kids with homework. the cost of everything keeps going up, of clothing, of food, of everything. and you look at our tax code, and it has not kept pace with it. so let me give you an example. accounting for inflation, from 1960-2015, which is when the latest numbers were available, the average cost per child of raising that child, in a
middle-class family, went up by over $11,000. over $11,000 more expensive, adjusting -- accounting for inflation. here is a stunning figure. and again, this is different in different communities, but by and large for middle-class families -- and by that, we mean a firefighter and a teacher who are raising a child. they're going to spend approximately $230,000 to raise that child in the 21st century from zero to 18. and by the way, my oldest is now 17 1/2. i have been told by plenty of my colleagues it doesn't end at 18. in many cases it begins to accelerate in some form or fashion. nevertheless, $230,000. let me tell you something else, that doesn't even include college. that doesn't even include going to college, which is another thing we're going to right now, which, by the way, is completely and totally out of control in terms of what they are charging. and it's more than that. it's more than that. there are people now out there
spending $10,000 or $15,000 on s.a.t. prep courses. for the live of me, i don't understand how these schools can expect someone who comes from a single-parent home in a poor neighborhood could keep pace with people who are having these sorts of resources available to them, but that's another topic for another day, but that's a cost that's involved in all of this. how about child care? in 38 out of 50 states, child care is more expensive than college. so think about it. you make -- let's say you take home $900 a week, and child care is $250 or $350 a week. that's a third of your paycheck just for child care. so these things are reducing the ability of families to afford to have children and to raise them, and these costs keep going up. and so one of the things that we have offered as a partial solution -- it's not going to solve every problem -- is to increase the child tax credit, and to do so in a way that actually helps people. because what this would do it would reduce families' tax bills
on a per-child basis, increasing the flexibility that family has at a time when, for example, child care costs have risen more than ever before and are already higher than they have ever been. so if we want -- and i think the other advantage is this is not -- we have to understand the family is the most important unit in all of society. it's the most important institution in society. it's the first government. it's the first school. it's the core institution that underlies everything else we do as a nation. there is no more important job that any of us will ever do than the job of a parent. and if you think about our tax code, it says if you invest money in a piece of equipment or a business, the tax code will help you with that, but if you invest it in a future american taxpayer, if you invest it in someone who you are going to need to build the sort of economy and future we want for our nation, the tax code does not really take it into account. that makes no sense to me. i have two charts here to kind of outline how important this tax credit is to tax reform. and again, i'm operating off the framework because there is no bill out yet, but based on the
framework, the amount of tax relief that a working or middle-class family will get almost entirely depends, almost entirely will depend on what we do with a child tax credit. so here is the first chart. this chart shows the average tax cut for american families if the child tax credit is doubled from its current size -- not just doubled but we make it refundable against payroll tax liability, which is the tax every american pays, right, for social security and medicare. it's the first chunk that comes off your paycheck, no matter how little you make, everyone pays it. we make the child tax credit double and we apply it towards your liability on payroll tax, this chart which is what i have proposed, what senator lee and i have been working on, what ivan ca trump is advocating and we have worked with her office on it, it shows you what the impact would be, and that's the blue line. you can see from the blue line that that chart begins with some cut, depending on how much money you make, and it begins to drop as the amount -- obviously, the more money you make, the larger the credit will be up to its
limit because of you can't get a credit if you're not making any money at all, even if applies to payroll tax. but you start to see it also grows with the number of children because it's per child. so it doesn't just phase off at two children. and that's the blue chart. now, what's the red chart? the red chart is that we do nothing, or basically just do a gimmicky thing about it. then you tart to see without the child tax credit being made refundable and without the child tax credit -- payroll refundable and without the child tax credit being per child and sufficiently increased, this framework would be a tax increase. people will actually pay more. and the more children you have, the bigger your tax increase will be. so suffice it to say, we have got to do it. this red line cannot be what we wind up at. i don't think that's the intent of the people who drew up the framework, but that's where we wind up if we don't do it. i pull that chart out to show you how important it is we do it
as part of this framework. it won't happen, it won't pass without it. it's the right thing to do. this is a pro-job, pro-family initiative. i actually think it's pro-growth. it's hard for economists to measure it that way but it would be. there are a lot of people that can't start a business because they can't afford to leave the security of a tern type of employment. the tax credit leaves that up for them to be able to do. let me get to the second chart if i can get it up real quick. how can we -- this kind of shows you basically the same dynamic but now based on how much people are making, what kind of jobs they do. so we picked out just arbitrarily some of the jobs that many of us know people are in these fields -- home health aide, retail person, working sales, macy's, whatever, office clerks, we all see office clerks every day, a truck driver, a vocation like a nurse, firefighters, obviously i have three firefighters in my own family. again the $1,500 tax credit with only the first thousand refundable, you start to see the
red line here, how pathetic it is for these folks in these proinvestigations -- professions. doesn't really do much. look at the blue line. that's where we want to get to. that's at least $2,000 child tax read applied to their payroll tax. now you start to see the figures get better here. you start to see the home health aide getting about $1,000 in relief. the retail salesperson a little bit under $1,000. the truck driver between the truck driver and office clerk getting down here to $1,400. the nurse getting down here at about $1,it00. the firefighter -- $1,200. the firefighter at $1 jrks 200. it's not going to change the world but it will help. i didn't say it was a solution to every problem. the other solution is to get the salaries up higher. that's the other part of it. but the other solution is to get the cost on in of -- on some of these things lower. get a grip on the cost of -- getting college credits. the other solution is to provide more opportunities for child
care options for people. but there's no way this doesn't help. it helps. it helps. and it helps the people we need to help. and it helps us get closer to the goal that we all have for this nation, and it is a place of equal opportunity because we pride ourselves on equal opportunity, but i am telling you that we are lacking equal opportunity if two children growing up in two different homes, one has access to quality pre-- pre-k education and quality schooling and then the right support for that schooling and one does not, biff the time you're a junior and -- by the time you're a senior and senior, it hurts you. it absolutely hurts you on your way forward in life. this is not the solution to all of our problems. that would be misleading but it is a big step in that direction and it would show in tax policy that we are supporting the most important institution in society which is the family. the most important function any of us will ever do which is to be a parent. and we are investing in
america's future. the children being raised, the two, three, four children, you know who those are? those are the people who are going to fund social security and medicare when i retire and many of you retire. these are the people that are going to be starting the businesses and these are the people that are going to be the backbone of our economy, not in 50 years. in the next 10, 15, 20 years. this is the future of america literally and figuratively, the future of our nature that we would be investing in. and we would be allowing their parents to make that investment on their behalf who are the right people to be making it. and so this has to be a part of whatever else happens. and i think this has strong bipartisan support. i know the white house supports it. i'm optimistic it will happen. the only thing that will keep it from happening is if tax reform itself goes down. but this has to happen. there's no choice but to do it and it's the right thing to do. i'm pleased we've come this far on it. now i look forward to the work to get it achieved, but it can't just be a gimmick. it can't just be we increase the child tax credit by a little bit. if we don't do it right and
sufficiently and structured in an appropriate way, we'll be raising taxes on working families. that can't happen. i know no one here wants to see that happen. we'll have a lot of debates about everything else but this is the one i hope will have strong bipartisan support as we move forward on tax reform and i look -- i'm excited to be able to work on it. mr. president, i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leader. the presiding officer: duly note -- duly noted. mr. rubio: i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i want to start by making it very clear that this -- this is not the way our budget process should work. in fact, even call this a budget process gives it more credit than it deserves. with republicans in control of the white house in both chambers of congress, the budget process has now descended into chaos and dysfunction. i talked about this in the
budget committee. but i'm going to keep talking about it, because it is important. first of all, mr. president, look at the date. we are debating a budget for fiscal year 2018 months too late and more than two weeks into the fiscal year we are supposed to be budgeting for. but second and far more important is this. we're not really here to talk about a budget. we're not really here to have a debate about our values and our priorities or where we should be directing our limited natural resources. we're not here to talk about what or who we should be investing in as a nation. we're certainly not really here to try to come together around a shared vision for where our country can head next year or five years from now or even ten years from now. democrats two want to have this -- democrats do want to have this conversation. we believe this is a critical debate to have, and we would love to spend time on this floor debating a budget that opens up
that conversation and puts us on a path towards working together to actually get that done. but, mr. president, we all know we're really here because republican leaders want to start another fast-track partisan process to jam legislation through congress and do everything possible not to have to work with democrats. and for what? to give more tax breaks to the rich, to raise taxes on the middle class, to circumvent any debate about a major environmental decision that would be unwise and potentially catastrophic, to blast a hole in our budget that will increase the deficit, blow up the debt, and put social security, medicare, medicaid, education investments, health care, and so much more priorities at risk. so, mr. president, all this isn't just shameful, and it's not just wrong but it isn't going to work. we've all seen what happened in
the last few months. republicans have spent months trying to jam trumpcare through congress. they refused to work with democrats. and here we are now months later with democrats and republicans now finally working together to improve health care after months of delay. so, mr. president, i say this to my republican colleagues. let's skip this first part. let's skip this partisanship and dysfunction and acrimony and bitterness and let's move, right now, to the bipartisan work and negotiations that we all know that our constituents actually want and expect. i know it won't be easy, but i'm confident we can get it done. because, mr. president, all we are asking is that president trump keep the promises he made on the campaign trail to put workers and the middle class first. so it shouldn't be that difficult. and the choice could not be clearer. should we give president trump
and his cabinet of millionaires and billionaires more tax breaks? or should we cut taxes for the mom or dad who's working to jobs or struggling to pay their mortgage or help their kid go to college? should we preserve and protect medicare and medicaid? or should we allow those critical programs to be cut to give tax breaks to the rich. that's really the crux of this debate. mr. president, democrats believe that workers and the middle class should get tax breaks. and from everything we're seeing about this republican plan and everything we are seeing in this budget today republicans don't agree. so i'm hoping we can move away from this partisan process and really get to work for the people we represent. and i'm hoping we can return to a budget process that allows a true debate about our values and our priorities as a nation. we should be here talking about the path to another bipartisan
budget deal that will restore the investments in domestic and defense priorities. we should be having conversations about ways to strengthen medicare and medicaid, not cut them. we should be talking a lot about how we tackle our deficit and debt challenges fairly and responsibly. and, mr. president, i want to note on that point i find it especially interesting that so many republicans spent years pretending to care about the deficit when it came to making cuts to middle class priorities. but the minute it came to handing tax breaks to the rich, all of that went out the window. and one republican even admitted to "the new york times" that deficit concerns were nothing more -- and i quote -- a great talking point when democrats are in charge. and with the budget that would add trillions of dollars to the debt that's on the floor today, we will see where people actually stand on that issue. and finally, mr. president, we
should be talking about ways to help our workers. we should be talking about ways to grow our economy from the middle out, like making sure we have access to high quality child care and pre-kfor every work -- pre- pre--kfor every wog family. investing in retirement for our working families. we should be talking about how we're going to support our veterans and protect women's health care rights. there's a lot we should be talking about in this budget. those are the conversations we should be having. those are the people we should be investing in. so i'm going to be doing everything i can in this so-called budget debate to keep the focus on the people i came here to fight for. and i'm going to stand with democrats and families across the country to fight back against republican attempts to jam a massive partisan tax break for the rich through congress and force working families and middle class to pay the price.
thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island ree. mr. reed: thank you very much. i rise in strong opposition to the budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. let me say consideration of this budget resolution seems surreal not only because of the timing coming as it does three weeks into the fiscal year but also because of the real challenges the united states faces today. we have important work to do. at this moment three states and to u.s. territories are struggling to recover after significant natural disasters. the resources we are providing simply are not sufficient. in addition, we sadly and tragically have observed las vegas just experienced the worse mass shooting in american history breaking a record, an only nowtion and sinister record set only last year in the tragic mass shooting in order.
but there's -- in orlando. but there's no serious bipartisan effort to address gun violence. after president trump's reckless efforts to sabotage the affordable care act, congress needs to act to stabilize private insurance exchanges. i think we were all pleased, at least i was, to see senator alexander and senator murray take strong steps in the last few days to do that. it bea appears, however, they're once again being undermined by the president. next week the president is officially going to declare what we all have recognized over several years an opioid crisis as a national emergency, but declarations mean nothing but the resources to help. and this is an emergency. we need to provide those resources now. but given this budget resolution before us, those resources won't be available. states are already taking steps to reduce health care coverage for kids under the children's health insurance program and
services through community health centers because we have not been able to act in time to reauthorize these critical initiatives. we face international crises in iran, iraq, and north korea which are inflamed unfortunately every time the president seems to teet or declare -- tweet or declare or to claim about these issues. before december 8 the president and congress need to come to an agreement to provide relief for funding caps for defense and nondefense priorities. the president and congress also need to act immediately to undo the crisis created by the president's executive order on daca which will put thousands of dreamers at risk of deportation and have adverse impacts on our economy. this budget addresses none of these challenges. in fact, it so weights tax cuts to the rich and deficits that we will not have the resources to
deal with any one of these issues. instead after the president took steps that would cause millions to lose their private health insurance last week, this budget will pave the way for trillions of dollars in cuts to health care offered under medicare and medicaid. last week the president basically tried to strangle the affordable care act. now the goal is to undo medicare and medicaid. and that's astounding. but the real goal behind there is not just undoing these critical programs for every american. the real goal is to provide trillions more in tax cuts which overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest. the majority will say the budget only lays out a broad fiscal plan and that none of the details have been set, but we have seen this play before. it's -- it starts with tax cuts for all but it will end with
nothing short of a historic transfer of wealth if low and middle-income americans to those who are prospering the most in this country. it starts with the promise of a balanced budget but it will end with greater deficits. it will start this time when after a long and difficult recovery from the economic crash under the bush administration, the economy is finally moving forward with stock markets high, low unemployment and low interest rates. nothing about our current economic situation demands massive deficit-busting tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest americans. indeed, it's instructive to look back to the 2001 and 2003 bush tax cuts. these tax plans were also paid for with trillions of dollars in debt because the nation was nearly at war. these plans also overwhelmingly favor the top 1% of americans. we were told then that the tax benefits would trickle down to the working class and pay for
themselves. i oppose these tax plans because i didn't believe that would occur and in fact it didn't occur. despite the substantial benefits overall household income was weaker than ever. with weak regulation and oversight, this fiscal policy ushered us into the great recession. now the g.o.p. is poised to do the same thing yet again. just for contrast, in the early 1990's, under president clinton, democrats took tough votes to raise revenue and rein in spending. despite predictions to the contrary, the economy took off on one of the biggest economic booms in history. and at the same time we turned budget deficits into the first surplus in a generation. there are lessons in that experience. there are no shortcuts to
restoring fiscal order. tax cuts do not pay for themselves. and you can't balance a budget while cutting revenue. so how does the majority promise to turn straw into gold this time? by paring $5.8 trillion in cuts from basic services including medicare and medicaid with deficits and rosy assumptions. the g.o.p. says it can balance the budget by $1.5 trillion. never mind the tax cuts to the wealthy will likely cost more than $1.5 trillion and never mind this budget assumes absurd cuts to nondefense programs and leaves spending to defense at sequester levels which we all recognize are inadequate. but even if the numbers are phony and built on unrealistic assumptions, won't most americans be getting a substantial tax reform in this
plan? no. about 80% of the tax cuts will go to the top 1%, increasing their after-tax income by about 9%. nearly half of that money will go to the top .1%. meanwhile the bottom 80% of americans wage earners will get only 13% of the tax cut. many hardworking families with children could actually see their taxes go up. based on the tax policy center's analysis, most rhode islanders who would get a tax cut would see only $190 or less out of this deal. and that's less than the cost of a week's worth of groceries for a family of four. yet, most rhode islanders and most americans stand to lose much, much more to the inevitable cuts and investments like medicaid, pell grants, title 1, health research and public infrastructure. most middle-class families in my state depend on programs like
these to send their children to school, they need pell grants and stafford loans. to make sure that their elderly mother or father is well cared for, they need the assistance of medicaid for nursing home facilities. so that $190 tax cut will be nothing compared to the losses they will incur in the cost of college to their children, in the cost of health care for their parents just struggling to get by. on the other hand, people in the top income bracket will get a tax cut large enough to buy a new mercedes. they will pocket that money, invest it or send it overseas. that money doesn't trickle down, and working americans are losing in this tax deal, will not see it in their paychecks. the american people deserve a better deal than this budget resolution offers. i know president trump and the leadership on the other side of the aisle are desperate for a legislative win.
they have spent the entire year trying to ram through a partisan trumpcare bill that would upend our entire health care system, kick over 30 million americans off their insurance and make massive cuts to medicaid harming our most vulnerable citizens including seniors, children and people with disabilities. the process, the tactics and the product, even members of their own party and americans cross the political spectrum, after having failed with trumpcare and all the other challenges we face, the majority leadership has set a deadline of november 13 for committees to produce a tax cut legislation. all the other business we need to do must wait until we cut taxes for the wealthy. i know there's room for compromise and that there are members of goodwill on both sides who are actively working to address many of the real challenges i earlier mentioned. tax cuts to the rich shouldn't be on our to-do list, let alone
at the top of the to do list as it is today. one of the things we should be standing up for is our men and women in uniform by providing the revenue we need to support them. but when it comes to providing that revenue, this resolution takes a need and gives revenue away to millionaires and billionaires. this is a truly rigged process. its only purpose is a fast-track tax cut for the rich. for that reason, i will oppose this budget resolution and will urge my colleagues to do the same. with democratic leader. mr. schumer: propose -- mr. president, yesterday the chairman and ranking member of the help committee came together on a package for a health care law. it was the product of months of difficult negotiations. like all good negotiations, both sides gave some, both sides got some.
the product is something neither side is completely happy with, but both sides can move forward with. that's what a good, fair compromise looks like. when bipartisanship is desperately sought after, this is not even a flicker, but a nice flame of bipartisanship burning brightly, and then a few minutes ago, president trump tweeted, quote, i am supportive of lamar as a person, and also of the process, but i can never support bailing out insurance companies who have made a fortune with obamacare. there are many reasons to feel vehemently upset, strongly upset about this tweet, how wrong it is. first, frankly, the president doesn't know what he's talking about in the compromise. it doesn't bail out insurance companies. it helps people who are sick and
who need health care. it keeps their premiums low. it allows them to go to a doctor or get a medicine that they need. senators alexander and murray made sure in the provisions they were writing that the money would not go to the insurance companies, but rather would go to millions of americans who need help because they couldn't afford health care on their own. the president ought to know what he's talking about when he tweets about bills. because on this one he had no understanding of what it's about. this hel -- this helps people, millions of people. this keeps the premiums down. this allows americans, working class, middle class, many of whom are in rural areas in red states, it allows them to go to the doctor, go to the hospital, get a medicine.
nothing bothers americans more when they can't get health care they desperately need for themselves or a loved one. so first the president ought to know what the bill is about before he tweets. clearly from this tweet, he doesn't. second, this president keeps zigging and zagging so it's impossible to govern. two thursdays ago the president called me in the gym and said let's work on a bipartisan solution. it was his initiation. he first talked about let's repeal. and replace. i said that's off the table. i then told him senator murray and senator alexander are outlining a compromise, and i said each side got something. and the president suggested that he call senator alexander and i call senator murray and encourage them. i called senator murray. he called senator alexander,
and he called senator alexander, from what senator alexander told me, several times to encourage him. and yesterday he called the murray-alexander deal a very good solution. now this morning he says he can't support it. can't support bailing out insurance companies who made a fortune with obamacare. wrong on the facts, as i mentioned. doesn't know what the bill is. we should have a president who actually knows the facts of bills he talks about. but second, he's totally inconsistent. for it one day, against it the next day. you can't govern -- mr. president, you cannot govern a country, you cannot keep america great if you don't know what's in the bills and don't have a consistent policy about them. but he keeps zigging and
zagging. our only hope is maybe tomorrow he'll be for this again. finally, a word in general, we all know that there are extremes in america. the hard right has a lot of power here. if every time the hard right says jump, the president says how high, his presidency will be a failure. yet that's what's happened repeatedly here. repeatedly. the hard right doesn't represent america on health care. 80% of the people did not like the trumpcare bill that the hard right supported. 80%. the majority of americans by a substantial margin want to see obamacare strengthened, not repealed. the hard right doesn't. they want to get rid of it. but if the president simply is responding to them, it's not
leadership. he did the same thing on daca. leader pelosi and i met with him. it was clear what we sought, approval of the dream act. he agreed provided there were border security, explicitly no wall. the next day the right wing attacked him. laura ingraham, one of those radio commentators said he should be combreeched. -- impeached. i think breitbart called him amnesty trump and he reversed himself. that's blatant fear. when you're president you have an obligation to lead. and this presidency has been so unsuccessful in accomplishing things, he can blame mitch mcconnell, which the president has done, or the republicans in the senate.
he can blame the democrats. but really, the reason that we're not getting anything done and his presidency has been so bare of accomplishment is that this president is embracing a hard right extreme position that is very far away from what americans want. and his presidency will continue to fail, continue to be a failure if he continues to do that. so i would say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, going back to the agreement, the agreement is fair and it's down the middle. as i said, each side gave. let's move forward. let's get a large percentage, a large number of democrats and republicans to sponsor this legislation. let leader mcconnell have the good sense and the courage to put it on the floor. i would bet my bottom dollar it will pass. let speaker ryan do the same.
and we will have shown that we can get something done in a bipartisan way. lamar alexander is not obstructing. patty murray is not obstructing. the president is obstructing at the moment. we should overcome that obstruction and work together. that's what the american people want. so i hope the president rethinks his position. he's rethought it several times already. i hope he actually reads and learns what's in the bill. and i hope we can get this done not for any party's sake or any individual's sake, but for the american people's sake, the millions and millions of americans who can't afford high premiums, who desperately need health care and medicine and who are praying for us to do something to help them. now on the budget, yesterday the republican majority voted to start debate on a budget resolution which would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion.
so much for the deficit hawks. slash medicare and medicaid by $1.5 trillion. so much for the many people who don't want to cut it, who promised not to cut it, including the president. and blows a huge hole in the deficit. as i said, deficit hawks. and finally, favors the very wealthy. my friend here was once head of the club for growth. i salute him. he states his position. he believes tax cuts on the very wealthy and on big corporations will create jobs. we can have that debate. it's called trickle-down economics. but he's honest about it. some of the others -- our secretary of the treasury, our advisors to the president, many
in this chamber saying this is a middle-class tax cut, when 80% of the benefits go to the top 1%, when we remove the estate tax which doesn't apply to anyone whose it estate is less than close to $11 million. it's a tax cut for the wealthy. some people believe that's a good way to exercise policy. the american people don't. but let's debate it that way. our republican colleagues, just like on health care, are ashamed of this bill. they can't debate it on what they really believe. and so they put up these chimera s. they sort of make it up. no, we won't have a deficit. there will be huge growth. i think the secretary of the treasury said it will decrease the deficit by $1 trillion. that was laughable. oh, it will go to the middle class, not the wealthy.
when they lowered the top rate, raised the bottom rate, get rid of the estate tax and allow pass-throughs which will mainly go to wealthy, very wealthy individuals to reduce their tax rate to 15%, that's in the outline. so today we begin the process of shining light on this awful proposal, of telling the truth. that's what the amendment process will be today. today we're going to vote on a democratic amendment to strike the $1 trillion of cuts in medicaid. if our colleagues don't want to cut medicaid, they have -- they should vote for this. if our colleagues are okay with $1 trillion of cuts in medicaid, let them vote against the amendment. but believe me, the american people will know exactly how each member of this chamber feels when it comes to cutting medicaid dramatically. we'll also propose an amendment
to strike medicare. in the health care bill, in one of the reiterations, we debated cutting medicaid. we haven't debated cutting medicare, but now we will. $473 billion of cuts are in the exact budget that our republican colleagues wish us to vote for. and it will shine a light on what really is in this bill. not what is said. how many of you on the republican side have mentioned that this bill cuts medicare and medicaid, this budget proposal? you going to start mentioning it today or are you going to try to hide it? okay. because it does. and, by the way, the idea that this doesn't count because it's just in a budget that we can ignore is belied by the fact that there is statutory paygo -- statutory, not rules -- and it says that medicare is cut 4% if there's a
deficit in terms of tax cuts. are you going to cut medicare 4%? we don't want to do that. we hope you don't. but this budget would require that under the paygo rules, and that is law. so we're going to have amendments. do you want to cut medicaid or not? yes or no. do you want to cut medicare or not? yes or no. do you want to vote for a $1.5 trillion deficit or not? yes or no. and do you want 80% of these tax cuts to go to the top 1%, to the very wealthy, while middle-class taxes are raised for many people? yes or no. today begins the process of
truth. today begins the process that shines light on all of the misrepresentations by secretary mnuchin and gary cohn and by the president himself who says he's going to just cut taxes on the middle class, not on the wealthy. this process will be going on for awhile. there's going to be a very bright light shining on our republican colleagues in the house and senate. it's going to take them awhile to come up with a bill. it's not easy writing a massive tax bill. and all the while, while they're writing it, and certainly once it comes out, that bright line of truth will produce, in my judgment, the same result we had on health care. the more the american people see, the less they'll like it. right now cbs poll yesterday,
two days, sunday, said 58% of the american people believe that the trump bill is tax cuts for the wealthy. only 19% believe it's nor -- for the middle class. that number is going to get worse, my colleagues, just as the health care thing got worse. and the american people turn against you as we democrats shine the bright line on what it really did. you cannot govern from the hard right, as wealthy as they are, as much as they threaten you with primaries. it's not going to work. we still have a foundation of democracy here. we're still a foundation of honor and truth. and when honor and truth and sunlight hit this bill, it will crumble. now i say to some of my colleagues, we want to work with you on a good tax reform bill, one that is revenue neutral, one that doesn't favor the wealthy.
we believe small businesses should get tax breaks. we believe money from overseas should come back and be used to create jobs. there are lots of things we can do in common ground without blowing a hole in the deficit, without cutting medicare and medicaid, without favoring the rich. defeat this bill, we will work with you, just as we have on health care. we said if you defeated that bill, we'll try to come up with a bipartisan compromise. and we have. one that the president is flip-flopping on, zig-zagging on, saying yes one day and no the next. but we've come up with a compromise and the same thing can happen on taxes. the same thing. so today is a turning point, a beginning turning point in the tax debate. the day that's what's really in this republican bill will come to light, and the american people, as they learn about it, will not like it. i yield the floor.