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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 9, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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data that's been proven, if for no other reason, then why would we jeopardize this gold standard? why would we make one american at home wonder whether that pharmaceutical product they were taking was actually safe or effective? why would we have them question for a minute whether that medical device was approved and reviewed by the most seasoned reviewer versus maybe somebody who was fresh on the job because the seasoned person went over to regulate tobacco products? why would we put the american people in a more difficult situation today on their question of food safety with the incidents that we've had of death in the united states of america because the agency couldn't quite meet their mission statement? why would we dump on them now? why would we do this to the
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american people? it's beyond me. but when you turn to some of the folks that have written on this, whether it's brad rodu, whether it's patrick basham, michael siegal, public health department, boston university, gis the only answer is -- i guess the only answer is, politics over science. that for 10 years people have said we've got to put this in the f.d.a. that matt meyers, head of campaign for tobacco-free kids is the most powerful united states senator because he's getting his wish. he's getting exactly what he's been trying to do for decades. he's not a science expert. if he was, he'd be voting for the substitute if he were here.
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he wrote the bill. i'm surprised he didn't catch the mistake of february of 2007. nobody caught that. but the truth is the bill hadn't changed much in 10 years, though the world's changed a lot. the science has changed a lot. health care's changed a lot. there's a real opportunity to do the right thing in the united states senate. but members will have to show a degree of independence and vote for the substitute and not wait for the base bill. i hope that members will heed the words of people who have no dog in this fight that have suggested that if we pass this bill, not the substitute, the base bill, we will have done a great disservice to the public health of america. more importantly, we will have
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done a disservice for those individuals to get locked into these categories. because their certain future is death and disease. they're counting on us. they really are. they're counting on us to do the right thing. i can leave this debate tonight and say i left nothing in the bag. i have tried everything to convince my colleagues not to make a huge mistake. i'll sleep well tonight. if this substitute doesn't pass, if h.r. 1256 passes and becomes law, it's others that are going to have to live with the way they voted. when people die because of what they did, it's others that are going to have to live with it. they're going -- there are going
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to be more articles, mr. president. this is just the tip of the iceberg of health professionals, of public health individuals, of people who detail in great quantity exactly what's been going on. as a matter of fact, as they say, the wool's been pulled over our eyes. well, it's not. and that's why we've gt a substitute amendment -- got a substitute amendment. that's why the majority leader allowed a nongermane amendment to come to the floor. well, it might have something to do that he didn't have the votes for cloture without allowing it to come to the floor. i give him the benefit of the doubt that he understood that this was an important debate to have. that this was worth extending the opportunity for people to vote up or down. i see that my colleague is here to speak and i'm not going to prolong this debate. in less than an hour members
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will have an opportunity to come to the floor. most members will get probably two minutes equally divided. 60 seconds to hear what's taken me six hours to say in this debate. clearly that's not much time. but now it's air in hands. it's in the decision that members of the senate will have to make about the future of public health policy of this country. i would urge my colleagues, both sides of the aisle, support the substitute amendment today at 4:20, and make sure that the future of our country is one that we'll be proud of and not one we will find as an embarrassment. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak at
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this time as if in morning business. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. johanns: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise this afternoon to speak about the president's announcement a few hours ago relative to pay-go. today the president said, and i'm quoting, paying for what you spend is basic common sense. perhaps that's why here in washington it's been so elusive. unquote. well, i could not agree more. but i must ask: where was that common sense when the president proposed to add $10 trillion to the national debt in the fiscal year 2010 budget mission is? where was -- submission? where was this basic common sense when he signed a bill earlier this year that adds
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adds $1 trillion in debt. when was this fiscal discipline when he proposed a massive universal health care proposal that is now turning out to be a government-run proposal with just a downpayment o of $650 billion? the president's announcement undoubtedly was meant to quell rising fears about the amount of spending and borrowing that his administration has undertaken. it was likely intended to calm the fierce of those who buy our debt -- fears of those who buy our debt who are wondering if it's just paper. but do the president's words today in any way address the mountain of debt and increased taxes he's proposed and supported just a few weeks ago with budget -- with the budget mission is? and the answer -- submission? and the answer to that is no. today's announcement is doing
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nothing to crush the debt we acouple laivmentd this president added significantly to our debt causing it to rise to an unprecedented level and unsustainable level. let me repeat that. the president's announcement does absolutely nothing to address our record spending and borrowing. this is like maxing out on the personal credit card and then promising not to use it anymore, but offering no plan to pay off the balance. now, the president rightly pointed out today, i would suggest, and, again, i'm quoti quoting: "the debate of the day drowns out those of what we face tomorrow." unquote. maybe it is a thoughtful time to look at what we face tomorrow because of the unpaid credit card balance. it is important to dissect the rhetoric, to speak to americans who have been promised something
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that i would suggest the president cannot deliver. remember that those in the so-called middle class, and the definition of that has changed, but they've been told that they will be shielded from tax increases. well, i would suggest that the evidence is obvious. the rug is about to be pulled out from underneath them by the president's explosive growth in spending and borrowing. if congress continues to follow the president's unlimited spending spree and tries to balance the budget at the same time, the middle class will get hammered with tax increases. this, i would suggest, is the elephant in the room that no one in the obama administration wants to discuss. for fear of the consequences. but the american people deserve an open discussion about the
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real-life consequences about big government and the runaway freight train of spending and borrowing that comes with bigger government. supporters of the current budget claim that only individuals earning more than $200,000 will see their taxes go up, therefore, there will be no tax increase on the middle class. yet, such a tax on higher income earners still results in an annual average deficit hovering around $12 trillion for one year for the next 10 years described by many to be unsustainable the our national revenue simply can't keep up with the bloated spending in the budget, and that's resulting in a shortfall. let me illustrate this in an example. this is equivalent to a lincoln, nebraska, teacher earning $33,000 per year, but
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spending $58,000 per year year after year. it can't last long. so is the obama administration going to continue this spending increase with only the revenue from the so-called rich? how can they continue running annual deficits with no end in sight? they can't. inevitably the spending spree, the exploding deficits will land squarely on the middle class in the form of higher taxes unless we do something. the reality is that the obama administration can't continue the unprecedented level of spending while claiming to hold the middle class harmless. now, if you don't believe me, listen to leading economists. martin sullivan, a former economic aide to president reagan, actually, who backed president obama last fall said
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and i'm quoting -- "you simply can't tax the rich enough to make all this up." unquote. he goes on to say and the quote continues: "just getting the budget to a sustainable level, there needs to be a broad-based tax increase." leonard butman with the tax policy center said and, again, i'm quoting -- "there is no way we're going to be able to pay for government 10, 20 years from now without coming up with a new revenue source. and, finally, economist paul krudman wrote, and i quote -- ""i find it hard to see how the federal government can meet its long-term obligations without some tax increases on the middle class." unquote. all of these experts echo the point i'm making, you can't tax
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the rich enough to pay -- to cover all the spending. inevitably what all of this is leading to is the middle class will fall victim to massive taxation. i'll put this into more tangible terms by examining how much the tax rate would need to rise to make up for only this year's projected budget deficit -- just this year's projected budget deficit. the deficit for this year alone is an eye popping $1.8 trillion. this doesn't even take into consideration the more than $12 trillion public debt we currently owe. here's what would have to happen to the tax rate. the rates for the top four brackets would skyrocket from the current rates of 35%, 33%, 28%, and 25% to an alarming 90% across the board.
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just imagine people would have to work until thanksgiving just to pay the taxes. some may say, well, this is great. tax the rich. because they can afford to pay more in taxes. yet, those making up to third and fourth brackets, mr. president from the top can hardly be characterized as rich. let's look at who actually falls in those income brackets. currently for tax year 2008, people who call under the 25% bracket will earn about $32,000 to $78,000. now, does anyone really want to come here to the senate floor and make the case that somebody making $32,000 a year in nebraska is rich? the average salary in nebraska is $35,000. i don't know anyone who would suggest that only wealthy people fall within the bracket.
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the average nebraskan would have something to say about that in terms of whether they are welty. -- wealthy. let's look at the next bracket, those taxed at 28%. the income levels for this bracket are roughly $78,000 and $164,000 for singles. for married couples, it's $131,000 to $200,000. what does this mean? this means that a landscape architect in nebraska making $75,000 a year, hypothetically, married to an emergency room nurse making $59,000 a year would fall into a 90% tax rate. again, i would suggest if you ask this couple, i'm quite confident they would not describe themselves as wealthy. you see, taxing the middle class to the tune of 90% would bring this economy to its knees. there's some notion in america that we the people should be the
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masters of our own economic success. if you tax someone at a 90% rate, you take away the economic incentive to be innovative, to strive for greater success. eventually you end up with slim or no productivity or competitiveness, yet this administration keeps spending like it's monopoly money. just this week, more directions -- get that money out there, get that spending going. their spending binge has us on an unsustainable course. complying with pay-go alone won't even come close to fixing it. maybe congress would benefit from being coached by the same credit card counselors who help america's -- americans who are drowning in debt. i'll bet those counselors would have some stern words. my point is simple: it's not the right direction for our country, mr. president. we must start to make spending
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decisions today that paint a realistic and a candid picture of the impact on the middle class. and if it is the purpose of our nation to hold them harmless, then we have to cut spending and we have to smart size our government. working families across our nation in my state deserve an honest debate. it's time for washington to take responsibility. the people at home i believe are demanding it. i often say nebraskans have great wisdom to convey. i couldn't agree more with the gentleman from north platte, nebraska, who wrote me a letter recently, and he said this -- and i'm quoting -- "it's important to remember that while government consumes wealth, transfers wealth, sets the ground rules for the generation of wealth, it is the private individuals that create it."
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as a final note, the president today rightfully acknowledged the reckless fiscal policies of the past have left us in a redeep hole. i would add to that, and the present. digging our way out will take time and patience and tough choices." again, i could not agree more, other than i would add to that, the present. however, instituting pay-go does nothing to cut the deficit or the debt. it simply attempts to hold the line, which the president's budget fails to do. and his proposal is actually a more liberal approach than what is already incented in house rules. you see, rightsizing government, cutting spending is far from revolutionary, so while the president is saying when you find yourself in a massive hole, stop digging, but the more
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important question might be: how are we going to start filling up this gaping hole? our country needs leadership, not the empty rhetoric that i would suggest we heard today. the president's speech today sought to subdue the fears of many regarding our country's exploding deficits. i'm sure it was targeted to those who buy that debt, who are expressing concerns about what they are purchasing. yet people should not be fooled into thinking that pay-go is the holy grail for solving out of all spending and borrowing woes. i believe pay-go is a useful tool. when you look at the hard facts, you realize that president obama's speech today, though, is simply too little and it's too late. the horse is already out of the barn. and the president is talking to
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us about closing the barn door. thank you, mr. president. a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. dodd: mr. president, i ask consent the call of the quorum be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dodd: mr. president, i further ask consent that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dodd: i thank the chair. and i'll try and be brief on this. i know i've talked at some length about the bill before us, the family smoking prevention and tobacco control act. i want to begin by thanking again our colleagues who voted yesterday to allow us to move forward by supporting the cloture motion. that took a bipartisan effort here and i'm grateful to colleagues, both in the majority and minority, for lending their support to that effort. and i'm also pleased that we're having an opportunity to vote on
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senator burr's and senator hagan's amendment. there were some questions raised as to whether or not that amendment would be permissible under a postcloture environment, from a parliamentary standpoint. and as i told my friend from north carolina, senator burr, that even though i disagree with his amendment, that i would vote against a point of order if one were raised it so he'd have a chance to make his case. his state is going to be affected by this decision we're making. as i recall, i think he's told me that there are some 12,000 to 15,000 tobacco farmers in north carolina. and these are hard-working families, many of whom have been in the business for generations. this will have an impact on th them. it may not be as dramatic as some would suggest, but certainty i it will have a negative impact if, in fact, we're successful in reduce the amount of smoking and use of tobacco smoking, particularly by young children. so i'm pleased that my colleague from north carolina has had a chance to make his case along with his colleague from north carolina, senator hagan. but i must say, and now having said i support his right to be
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here to be heard, that i'd now like to take a couple minutes to express why i think it's -- why i think the underlying bill that has been supported over the years by a substantial number in this body as well as in the other body, the house of representatives, as i've pointed out in the past, this matter which has been under consideration for almost a decade has not become law because neither house of congress has adopted the legislation in the same congress. so we've ended up with the senate passing a bill, the other house passing a bill but never in the same congress. and so for all of these years, the food and drug administration has not been able to regulate tobacco products, and we're about to change that if we, in fact, reject the burr amendment and several others that are here and give the food and drug administration the power, the authority to regulate the sale, production, and marketing of tobacco products particularly to young children.
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so for the first time, the f.d.a. will have this authority and put in place tough restrictions for families that for far too long have been absent when it comes to how cigarettes are market to their children. i'm sure my colleagues are tired of hearing me say over the last several weeks about the number of young people who start smoking every day. we've been at this matter now for about two or three weeks, considering the floor action as well as the action in the "help" committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction. you can do the math yourself. 20 days, 3,000 to 4,000 children every day starting to smoke while we've been deliberating this piece of legislation. needless to say, i don't know of a single person in this country with an ounce of sense that -- that wants that rate of -- of children beginning this habit to continue. i don't know of anybody with any sense at all who believes that our country is better off if day after daye


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