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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 14, 2010 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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interest on our national debt could rise to nearly $1 trillion annually by 2020. mr. president, that is the entire amount of individual income taxes we are collecting this year. it's impossible to look at these numbers and believe that this trajectory will result in an america that's better for our children than it is for us. we can't continue to just grow the debt and run huge deficits each year with the expectation that our children will pay the bill. this trend of borrowing will eventually have to come to an end one way or another. the only question is how. are we going to reduce or deficit responsibly, in a bipartisan fashion and in a way that encourages investment and economic growth? or are we going to cruise blissfully along until some external crisis forces us to make these adjustments in the
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most sudden and painful way possible? the time for congress to act is now. there's a mounting chorus growing from all sides that recognizes our current path is unsustainable. 11 members of the fiscal commission voted for the bipartisan deficit reduction report, including my friends, the senators from illinois, north dakota, oklahoma, idaho, and new hampshire. just today, monday's announcement -- moody's announcement that it could move a step closer to cutting the a.a.a. rating on our u.s. debt. that's why i am here today joining with my colleagues in vigorous support of concerted bipartisan action on the deficit in 2011 and the resolution increased by my colleague, senator chambliss, and senator warner. mr. president, it is past time to get to work. we need to think seriously about reforming the tax code and
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tackling the deficits and the debt in a civil and bipartisan manner and we need to do it now. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. a senator: mr. president, fellow senators, i rise today to speak very briefly about this issue. mr. risch: this easily could be "the" most serious issue that we deal with in recent years and in future years. we have an enemy today that is at the door. this is an enemy that is out there somewhere and you can talk about philosophically. it's an enemy that is at the door. last year, the federal government spent around $3.8 trillion. that really doesn't mean anything to me or probably much to anybody because nobody knows what $3.8 trillion is. if you say it's a little over $7 million a minute, it starts to sound a little bit more like you could understand it. but none of that is important. it's how much do you have. and the federal government was
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short 41% of that money. 41 cent out of every dollar -- 41 cents out of every dollar that the united states government spent it borrowed. i hope everyone listened closely to the senator from nebraska when he said that if we funded only social security, medicare, medicaid, and the interest on the national debt, we would be short of the money coming in to pay for that. if you shut down all other aspects of the federal government, you still couldn't put it in the black if you paid for just those. this -- this moment in history is an absolutely critical moment for the american people. we've gotten jaded because all of our lives we've heard about the national debt and we've heard about annual deficits and we get jaded about it. but these numbers today are re real, they are serious, and they could bring down this government, there is absolutely no question about that.
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this congress has to do something about that and it's not going to be done by republicans, it's not going to be done by democrats, it is going to take a bipartisan effort to do that. i'm here today to support that. i want to yield the floor to my good friend, senator udall from colorado. mr. udall: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: madam president, i'm pleased and proud to follow my colleague from idaho, and what we're hearing about here is that of all the challenges that face our nation -- and there are many of them right now -- that this massive set of annual budget deficits and the overall debt that we face, it's a crippling debt, probably are the most serious and difficult efforts that we have to -- we're facing right now as a people. a strong country -- i heard senator wyden say this, in affect -- is an insolvent insolt country. and conversely, a broke country is a weak country. i heard erskine bowles, cochairman of the commission that we're talking about today, he was asked why are our
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interest rates low and why are our bonds still desirable. and he said, let's not fool ourselves, and senator chambliss would appreciate this because he used a southern turn of frayed. he said, look, we're still the best-looking horse in the glue factory, that's the only way our interest rates and our bonds are still strong. so what do we do about that? well, there's a way forward. the bipartisan commission has put in front of us a plan that we don't -- none of us agree with every single item but it's a way forward. and it's important to also note that of the 11 votes, five of those votes i believe were senators from our body. five of our six senators who represented us on that commission voted to move forward. so that's the way forward, is for us to join together, democrats and republicans alike. and despite our differences of opinion on many other issues, we can agree i think on one thing and that's to developing fundamental tax reform and addressing in the process our long-term debt problems. now, like senator wyden, i'm going to vote "no" tonight. i think this is a misguided effort and we will add $900
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billion to our debt load. but i respect my colleagues who see it otherwise. but i'm going to vote "no." i'm going to come right back here to work tomorrow, with all of us here in this chamber, we're going to meet this challenge head-o. the stakes are too high if i don't. madam president, i yield the floor to the senator from tennessee, senator alexander mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i'm here tonight in the spirit of my late friend, the author of roots "roots," alex haley, who lived and died by these words, "find the good and praise it." i'm here to commend senator warner, senator chambliss, and the bipartisan group of senators who have focused their attention on this urgent crisis that our country faces, the national debt. this is the way our nation is supposed to work, to see an urgent need, to develop a bipartisan consensus to go to work on it, come up with a strategy to deal with it and get
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a result. not just make speeches but get a result. we've heard the evidence. we've had the good examples set by five members of our body, two democrats, three republicans, who took a courageous step in their action o on the fiscal commission the other day. we should follow that example. but i'm so encouraged by what i hear. this is the way the senate is supposed to work. let me conclude with just one example from history. i was -- picked up a book the other night called "the british overseas." it's a british historian's view of the american revolution. you can imagine what some of the comments might be, written several years. but it pointed this out, that at the time of the american revolution, the interest on the national debt of the british empire amounted to one-half of the national revenue of the british empire. in other words, at the time we won our independence, great
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britain had an unconscionable debt and it forced them into some imprudent decisions. one was the stamp act and one was the little tax on tea, which occurred at about that time. so big debts force big countries into bad decisions. the leadership that we've seen across the aisle is a good start toward a serious effort toward dealing with our debt crisis. i'm here today to commend those senators, both democrats and republicans, who are part of it. i yield the floor to the distinguished senator from colorado. mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: madam president, i'm so pleased to be here in this room with democrats and republicans talking constructively with each other about something that's been a long time -- about something. it's been a long time since we've seen that. and it's one of the things that i heard day after day after day over the last 33 months as i had town hall meetings across the
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state of colorado. i, too, wanted to read something from the words of the deficit and debt commission because i think it's important for people to understand, people that are watching this at home and people working in washington, that this is not optional. they write, "large debt will put america at risk by exposing it to foreign creditors. they currently own more than half of our public debt and the interest we pay them reduces our own standard of living. the single largest foreign holder of our debt is china, a nation," they write, "that may not share our country's aspirations and strategic interests. in a worst-case scenario, investors would lose confidence that our nation is able or willing to repay its loans, possibly triggering a debt crisis that would force the government to implement the most stringent of o osterity measure" as the president knows, i had never run for office before this election. i spent half my life in the private sector and half working
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in things like the dem republic schools, our former secretary of education is here today. nothing else in the world runs like this. nowhere else would we say to ourselves that our theory is that we're going to look the other way, borrow the money from the chinese, one of our greatest competitors, and stick our kids with the bills. and the reason this has become so important now is because the size and the scale of this debt puts us in the position where one day -- and i'll close with this, madam president -- where one day somebody may say, i'm not going to buy your debt at that price. and the day that happens, our interest rates are going to spike and this recession is going to look like nothing compared to what we're going to face. we owe it to our kids and our grandkids to make sure that we're paying our way, and i'm so pleased that we're here today in a bipartisan way to talk about this. a senator: madam president? mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: i know that the senator from illinois is going to be doing his maiden speech in a couple of moments. i would ask his forbearance for an extra four or five minutes if
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our colleagues all could be brief. we've been a little bit oversubscribed, which i think is an indication of 9 enormous interest in this issue and i know senator shaheen, senator corker, senator klobuchar, senator nelson wanted to speak briefly on this issue. and if the senator from illinois would grant us those couple of minutes, we would all be very grateful because i know he will be, once he makes his maiden speech, part of this -- part of this effort as well. so with that, to senator corker. mr. corker: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: thank you, very much. i rise to speak on the topic that's been discussed here over the last hour and i want to thank my colleagues for focusing on this issue. i want to say that yesterday's vote and tonight's vote are tough votes for me and i think they're tough votes for each of us. we've got a bipartisan compromise that's come forth. there are things in this bill that trouble each of us for different reasons. but i think all of us understand
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that -- that our deficit issue is the biggest threat to our country's economic security, in many ways to our sovereignty. over this summer, i had 46 deficit presentations around the state of tennessee, and i think the thing that people walked away from those meetings -- these were large meetings -- was the severity of the issue. and i'm not sure that most americans had really focused on the severity of our debt issue. i think most americans think that this is going to affect their neighbor, that it might affect another generation. i think a lot of americans think that if we would do away with things like earmarks -- and i don't earmark -- that we would solve our problem. that's the thing that i hope to accomplish this summer in tennessee, was to make people away of how big this issue is and that the steps we're going to have to take are draconian. i applaud those that have been involved in the process that has just taken place, the deficit
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reduction commission, and i'm hopeful that sometime very soon, in the next few months, we'll either have the opportunity vote on something similar in nature that deals with real spending constraints. i think all of us know that spending as a percentage of g.d.p. is at all-time news modern history, and i think we know that spending has to come under control. at the same time, we understand that in our tax code, we give away each year $1.2 trillion. i think that shocks people. and if we were to eliminate those -- and i know senator wyden and others have worked on these kind of things -- if we would eliminate those, everybody's taxes could be less. we could lower individual rates, we could lower corporate rates, we could have our -- help our economy be spurred on. so, madam president, i know that it's irresponsible when a debt ceiling comes before us to not vote for a debt ceiling in that it's like running up a credit
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card tab and not agreeing to pay the bill. but i've heard a great senator -- he's getting ready to retire and i won't say what his name is -- say that it's also irresponsible to not be responsible prior to voting on a debt ceiling increase. so it's my hope that sometime between now and april or may or early june, whenever this vote has to take place, then instead of us just talking about this today -- and i applaud all those who are; i thank you for that -- but that we actually vote on something of substance that deals with this issue in a real way and does not kick the can down the road. this is the issue that could create the greatest crisis in our country. something, by the way, is totally in our control. many of the problems that we face as a country we can't deal with solely ourselves.
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it involves lots of other people. this is one much those issues that we have totally in our control. and all it takes is the courage to deal with this issue. and the -- the reasoning that we're not going to get everything exactly the way we want it, but as a group we're going to have the courage to actually deal with it. so i hope we move more than just to a construct, but just to -- to a real vote. i have a bill on the floor. and i'm thankful that claire mccaskill has agreed to cosponsor an amendment to actually this tax bill that i know is probably not going to pass. probably not even going to have a vote. but toward building a momentum to have a construct in place that sequesters spending to drive us from where we are today to a more responsible place, a place where we've been over the past 40 years. madam president, i thank you for the time. the senator from illinois, who i respect, thank you for your forbearance. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i'm pleased to be here on the floor to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to talk about the need for us to deal with our deficits and our debt in this country. i made the decision to vote for the tax cut package that we're going to be voting on this evening. i did that with some -- some sense of ambiguity because it doesn't adequately put in place a plan to address our debt in this country. and all the economists, however, that i've spoken to have indicated that this is important for us as we're looking at continuing to stimulate our economy and provide the relief that middle-class families and small businesses need. so despite the fact that there are things in it that i don't like, i'm going to support it.
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but i would feel a lot better about it if it contained language that all of us have talked about that says as part of doing this, once we get this economy moving again, we've also got to address the long-term debt that we face in this country. and make no mistake about it, we've got to do that both by addressing spending and by addressing tax reform. i was at a small business in salem, new hampshire, yesterday, a company called m.s.i. they did hvac systems, a small business, they have about 25 employees. and i asked them what they were looking for from us in washington, and they said a fair, simple tax code. so we've got to get serious about this problem. all we've got to do is to look at what's happening in europe to know that we are headed that way if we gon don't get this debt ur
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control and we've got to make some tough decisions that include both tax reform and fiscal restraint. and i would feel better if this language were in the legislation that we're going to be voting on, but i think it's clear that it's a sense of senate i think that if we can get this resolution done, it will be important to send that message to nrve the country about what -- to everybody in the country about what we need to do. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i want to say to the new senator from illinois, thank you for your forbearance. 10 years ago this senator made his maiden speech on the floor and it was about this very same issue because then, a decade ago, we had the privilege of having surpluses and my maiden speech was about exactly if we didn't watch out, what was going to happen was those surpluses
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were going to go into deficits, and if we had been good stewards of our condition, we could have paid off the national debt over the course of 12 years. but we took a different direction. i am to be followed by the senator from minnesota, the senator from california, and i think what we're hearing here in a bipartisan way, after we are swallowing a bitter pill of what we're going to vote on tonight that is going to increase the debt $900 million, because it is the right thing to do to jump-start the economy. i think what we're hearing now is a confluence of events that is going to bring us starkly face-to-face that we're going to have to reduce the debt and we're going to have to do tax reform. and because the conditions are so raw now, it is our
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responsibility to explain what we see as the economic circumstances of the country, explain it to the american people and then act on it. and when emergency conditions arise, there is opportunity and that is the opportunity to make change for the good. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i also want to acknowledge the new senator from illinois and thank him for the time. but i also wanted to acknowledge the senior senator from illinois who's here who just spent the last few months serving honorably on the debt commission on the national commission on fiscal responsibility. they came out with some recommendations. and a number of us in this chamber, while we may not support everyone and disagree with some of them, think that that is something that we must
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pursue. as they wrote in their report every modest sacrifice that we refuse to make today only forces far greater sacrifices of hope and opportunity upon the next generation. and they're right. the longer we wait, the more wrenching the choices become. and guess who's going to have to make those painful choices, it's our children and our children's children. but you know what else, madam president, it's ourselves. as the senator from california pointed out about an hour ago, 6% -- 6% of our spending is just interest on that debt. so there are some commonsense suggestions that are in that report. that's what we have to do next year. when you look at this idea, people making over $250,000, the fact that just going back to the clinton levels -- the clinton tax levels when our country was incredibly prosperous that that would bring in $700 billion to bring down the debt, that's why the majority of the people in this country -- the vast
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majority of the people in this country want to see that as one of the options for the long term. for the short term right now we know that our country is still in a fragile state. we know that we can't sock the middle class with a $3,000 tax increase, we know that we have people unemployed through no fault of their own that are still unemployed. that's why we're passing this bill tonight. beyond, that as we go to the next year, we must work together as you see what's going on in a bipartisan way to put a plan in place. because the market will respond to that. it will be good to our economy. we will show we mean business. and we won't turn into one of those countries overseas that is experiencing what they're experiencing now because they didn't make that long-term commitment. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: madam president, i also am one of those who worried over this vote that we cast yesterday over the weekend. i spoke on this very floor about
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the fact i didn't like the estate tax. i didn't think wealthy americans needed a sustained tax cut. and then i began to make some calls to economists. and what i found is the kind of -- is a kind of double-edged sword. one, they did believe that the package had a stimulative nature of anywhere between .6% and 1.1%. .6% is about 600,000 jobs. so 600,000 to 1.2 million jobs. the payroll tax cut was stimulative, et cetera. and that we needed to do this. but then the flip side. and the flip side was, we are now reaching 63% of g.d.p. in debt. and what will happen is one day, if this continues, we will just go off a cliff economically. now, some time ago during the
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end of the bush administration many of us were on a phone call and we heard secretary paulson and federal reserve bernanke say that we are on the brink of a major collapse of this economy. everything could go down. banks, credit institutions, et cetera. i never thought this could ever happen in america. i now know that the unprecedented can affect happen in america. and that when we vote for a package that puts almos almost $1 trillion additional on debt and deficit, that we had better have a way to make a pivot, as some people have called it, and really do these things that can curb expenditures. we are fortunate. this national commission on fiscal responsibility outlines a course -- not everything do i agree with, just like the tax bill -- but nonetheless it's a
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course of action which can bring down this debt and bring down this deficit. i'm very proud of those members who voted to sustain this report. even with 11 members, i think it gives the kind of substantial ability to this report to bring it before this body. and i would hope that before we have to raise the debt ceiling, that we would have before us a package that we would set limits on spending, that we would freeze pay across the board, that we would make substantial across the board cuts in travel, in printing, in those things not because it's a big item, because it's an item that wakes people up. i found that on a city level. it exists on a state level. and it exists on a federal level. there is much that we can do. and i think at 63% of g.d.p.,
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this debt and deficit says to america, america, be concerned. america and american business, come home. build your plants here. help us rebuild this great country. help us build the industries of the future, but at the same time, right now, we've got to make very -- i think very deep cuts across the board. thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. begich: thank you, madam president. thank you to the senator from illinois for giving us a little time before you have your maiden speech. appreciate that. thank you very much. let me echo and associate my comments with all the problemses that have spoken previously and thank senator warner and senator chambliss for bringing a truly
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bipartisan approach to starting the tax reform which is critical for this country. you heard all the statistics all the numbers, all the reasons why we should do it. pretty simple, if there is one issue in my 2008 campaign that i talked about in the beginning of my campaign was about the deficit and what was happening, how much of your tax dollar was going toward paying the debt. paying the interest, madam president, you smoke about it, that is absorbing the budget. and a crash occurred at the end of 2008. and everyone wanted to talk about it. where we are today is an important point. tonight we'll have a vote on a tax package that will be temporary, a two-year fix to a much more complicated problem. when i came to the body here, i sat down with a couple of senators both on the republican side and democratic side, talked
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about reform and recognized that we're going to change the way our tax code works. we cannot do these bits an piece, it has to be true reform. as we move into the next year, 2011, not only do we have to take the tough decisions regarding the deficit we have to be tough about tax reform if you want to create certainty to our business an economy. a two-year fix does not do that. there have been many that has spoken before me on the data points, but purely, simply put if we do not deal with this now and now is in the next few months, we will hit that crashing wall, we will hit it hard and we will not have choices because we have nod mate a -- not made a plan regarding the deficit and tax reform. i thank the people who put this together, senator warner, senator chambliss, and thank the members, two dozen republicans and democrats talking about the need and the serious situation we are facing regarding the
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deficit and tax reform. i look forward to next year and i yield the floor. mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: i just want to again thank my colleague, senator chambliss, and there will be more to come. there were a number of other colleagues that couldn't be here and the senator from illinois has been more than kind in his forbearance and i know he will be meeting this challenge as well. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: 30 years ago, i worked in the house of parliaments. a new member's maiden speech is given great weight. traditionally the speech is used to highlight what a member's priorities are and set his tone for his tenure. my experience in london guided my thoughts ten years ago when i was elected to the house of representatives. my maiden speech then focused on the unique political history of the tenth congressional district of illinois and its tradition of
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electing thoughtful, independent leaders. as i stand here today, newly elected by the people of illinois -- thank you -- to represent their interests in the senate, i recall my first speech in the house and how humbled i was to follow such a distinguished group of men and women in office. i'm equally humbled now as i assume the office of united states senator for the state of illinois. since our admission in the union in 1818, illinois has sent a diverse list of senators to this chamber. many of my predecessors served in uniform valiantly. others had brilliant legal careers, while still others excelled in international diplomacy. as i take office, i want to reflect on those who represented illinois in the senate before me, their accomplishments, and the imprint they left on our great nation. one name hangs above all others. he never served in the senate,
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but he ran for the office in 1858. abraham lincoln was defeated in that election, but he won the nation's support for the high office he later sought in the lincoln-douglas debates. his story also reminds the republican and democratic opponents of the current members of this senate that the best days for those defeated opponents in public life may still be ahead of them. with regard to our senators who served illinois, the first i will mention is ninian edwards, a pioneer at the time when illinois was actually a frontier. first elected in 1818, he served until 1824 when he stepped down to become the united states minister to mexico. he had the distinction of being both the governor and senator from the state of illinois. a true servant to the state, he
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died this 1823 when he helped treat the victims of a cholera epidemic carried back by soldiers who served during the blackhawk war. senator james shields reminded us that we are a state and a nation of immigrants. born in ireland, he became a naturalized citizen in 1840. he served in the mexican-american war under general zachary taylor, demanding a brigade in the battles of vera cruz and cherabusco and others. already one of america's leading irish americans, brigadier general shields would later command a division during the civil war, taking his men against stonewall jackson in the valley campaign of 1862. he was twice elected to the senate in 1948, first in march and then again in october. but his first election was voided on the grounds that he had not been a u.s. citizen for
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the required nine years. eight months later, he won election again and was finally seated. senator shields is the only member of this body to have served in the senate from three states. in addition to illinois, he was elected in minnesota and missouri. senator shields also nearly changed the course of this nation. in 1842, a young abraham lincoln wrote an anonymous letter to the sangamon journal, criticizing then-state auditor shields for his decision to require the payment of taxes in silver or gold. when lincoln's future wife, mary todd, and her friends got in the act of writing additional missives, shields asked the editor to reveal the identity of the letter writers. when lincoln claimed responsibility for all the letters, shields demanded satisfaction and challenged lincoln to a duel.
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lincoln chose broad swords as the weapon of choice, and the two made plans to travel to missouri, as dueling in illinois was illegal at the time. luckily, cooler heads prevailed and the duel was called off, averting a potential history-changing event. serving from 1847-1861, democratic senator steven douglas was known as the little giant during his short -- because of his short stature but powerful hold on the u.s. senate. while accomplished, he was overshadowed by lincoln despite lincoln's loss to douglas in the 1858 senate election. douglas served as the architect of the kansas-nebraska act of 1854 that repealed the missouri compromise, allowing settlers and -- in kansas and nebraska to determine whether or not to allow slavery. douglas' reputation waned in later years when he led the
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democratic party to defeat in the election of 1860 by defending slavery in the southern states. his miscalculation dealt a blow to the ruling democrats, allowing a new antislavery republican party to win the white house. another illinois senator, david davis, holds a unique distinction, having served as an associate justice on the u.s. supreme court prior to his senate service. in his nearly 15 years on the court, davis is best known for writing the decision in ex parte milligan, holding that a death sentence handed down by a civil war military commission against a civilian was unconstitutional as civilian courts were functioning at the time. the illinois legislature elected davis to the senate in the midst of the disputed 1876 presidential election between rutherford b. hayes and samuel
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tilden. because of his service on the supreme court and his long reputation for fierce independence, senator davis was elected president pro tempore of the senate following the assassination of president garfield. under the law of the time, this placed him next in line of succession to president chester a. arthur, even though he was a freshman senator. one of our greatest senators was the man from peakin, senator everett mckinley dirksen, who served for nearly 20 years in the middle of the 20th century. his leadership was apparent early in his life. during the first world war, he entered service in the field arrest artillery as a private and left as a second lieutenant. while in the senate, he worked his way to lead the party as minority leader and developed a reputation as a pragmatic and thoughtful legislator. he is best known for his role in passing the civil rights act of
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1864. it was dirksen who said on the floor of the senate -- "the time has come for equality of opportunity, in the sharing of government, in education and employment. it must not be stayed or denied. it is here." it was dirksen who helped gather the votes for cloture on the ground-breaking legislation, ending the longest filibuster in senate history, a -- of 534 hours, 1 minute and 51 seconds. if there is one of our illinois senators whose spirit hangs closest to me as i begin my service here, it's dirksen's. senator dirksen's reputation as a fiscal conservative and social moderate is one that i hope to follow in my service here in the senate. senator dirksen died after a bout with cancer in 1969 but his legacy lives on. one of the three senate office buildings bears his name, as
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well as chicago's federal courthouse. senator charles percy entered the senate in 1867, serving alongside senator dirksen for two years. he was a rockefeller republican, representing the moderate wing of the republican party in the senate and went on to chair the senate foreign relations committee. in addition to his work on foreign relations, he worked on legislation to provide homeownership to low-income families. senator percy and i also share a similar background. both he and i are graduates of neuture high school in winnetka and both served in the united states navy. his greatest work for illinois was to eliminate the corrupt practice of nominating federal judges from the chicago political machine. i would like to follow in senator percy's footsteps by ensuring judicial nominations go through a rigorous advisory process. allen dixon served illinois in the senate from 1981-1993, but
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before he came to washington, he served both the illinois house and senate and later won statewide elections for treasurer and as secretary of state. he earned a deserved reputation as a thoughtful and moderate senator who served the people of illinois with a quiet dedication, and after leaving the senate, went on to chair the defense base alignment and closure commission in 1994 and 1995. born in eugene, oregon, senator paul simon served from 1985-1997 as a staunch fiscal pay as you go democrat. simon worked with senator orrin hatch of utah on a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. although unsuccessful at the time, it deserves renewed attention now in the light of our crippling federal debt. although he did not win the democratic presidential nomination in 1988, his greatest
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legacy may be the creation of the paul simon public policy institute at southern illinois university where he served as director until his death in 2003 following heart surgery. senator carol moseley-braun was a true daughter -- or is a true daughter of chicago. she was born in the city, attended chicago public schools and received degrees from the university of illinois at chicago and the university of chicago. she remains today as the only african-american woman to have served in the senate, and after she departed the senate, she served as our ambassador to new zealand and remains committed to public service today and is currently running for mayor of chicago. senator peter fitzgerald came to washington two years before i began my service in the house. i was honored to serve the illinois delegation with him for four years. when i look the oath of office here in the senate, it was
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senator fitzgerald and senator durbin at my side, recognizing that our leadership of our state requires a firm commitment to bipartisanship. senator fitzgerald was born in elgin and raised in inverness. he represented the northwest suburbs in the illinois state senate before his election to the u.s. senate. senator fitzgerald's legacy in illinois will forever be remembered for bringing one of the nation's most dedicated crime fighters to our state. senator fitzgerald is the reason why the northern district of illinois is home to one of the best prosecutors in america, u.s. attorney patrick fitzgerald. patrick fitzgerald, who is of no relation to the senator, has done more to fight public corruption in our state than any other person. senator peter fitzgerald fought a tough battle to recruit and appoint patrick fitzgerald. before his arrival, illinois had become the wild west of politics and one of the most corrupt states in the nation.
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under his tenure, u.s. attorney fitzgerald convicted two governors of corruption and countless other state and local officials. we will forever live with the embarrassment of convicted criminals like governor blagojevich, but with the leadership of senator peter fitzgerald, we found the right prosecutor to slowly restore the integrity and honesty of our state. i've spoken about the past greats who have represented illinois in the senate, but our recent senators have been champions in their own right. i'm honored to call senator dick durbin my colleague, and while we hail from different parties, we have pledged to work closely on issues that will benefit the people of our state. he, like me, came to this body from the house and quickly became known as a champion for infrastructure improvements like the critical o'hare modernization program and mass transit. his knowledge of the process of
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government is unmatched, and he is quick to tell very interesting tales about his life as a parliamentarian for the illinois general assembly. his father died of lung cancer when he was 14, and he has fought tirelessly to protect kids from tobacco. we fly today in smoke-free airlines because of senator richard durbin of illinois. recognizing his leadership, his caucus has voted to make him majority whip for the past four years, one of the few senators from illinois to hold such a position of distinction. and that brings me to perhaps the best known of senators and the man whose term i complete, barack obama. the first time i really heard of now-president obama was in springfield, illinois, in 2000. i was filing petitions to run for my first term in the house, and in front of me in line was a young staffer who worked for a state senator from chicago who
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was running for the congress. it's highly ironic that i won my election that year as state senator obama lost his, but ten years later, illinois had its favorite son in the white house. despite the media spotlight upon him, then-senator obama sought out a low initial profile in the senate and worked with senator durbin and the rest of our congressional delegation to quietly advance some projects. while his tenure in this body was brief, he and i essentially worked together to secure federal school funding for military families in north chicago illinois, fulfilling an important promise to take care of those who take care of us. in 2008, barack obama was elected as the first african-american president of the united states, creating a vacancy that was filled by
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roland burris. it is the greatest honor of my life to win election to both senator obama's unexpired term and a full six-year term. as i enter the senate and open a new chapter in the rich history of this body, i stand before you as a fiscal conservative, social moderate and a national security hawk. i bring a commitment to fiscal responsibility, spending restraint, lower taxes, tolerance, a strong national defense, and above all, thoughtful independent leadership. today we face great challenges both here and abroad. here at home, runaway spending and unsustainable borrowing threaten the future of our economy. unemployment remains high and economic growth slow. small business employers are crippled by the tax and regulation decisions of an ever-growing government. as we look abroad, our challenges are no less complex. we are a nation at war with a
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terrorist enemy that seeks our destruction. as america winds down our mission in iraq, our mission in afghanistan grows challenging, more challenging by the day. iran continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons as terrorists in gaza and lebanon threaten the securities of our strongest ally in the middle east. at home and abroad our country faces threats from iran, north korea and a number of terror cells based in pakistan, yemen, somalia and elsewhere. in times of great uncertainty, we do need to come together, republicans and democrats anded ins, to build -- and independents to build consensus to kpwraouft lives of the people we represent. in that spirit, i look forward to working with our senior senator, senator durbin, to complete the o'hare modernization project, to ban sewage dumping in the great lakes and expand high-speed
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raeufplt from rockford to cairo we will work to expand employment wherever possible seeking practical solutions for families across illinois. and i'm confident that we can build a bipartisan, pro-illinois agenda that delivers for our state. ninnian edwards, james shields, stevens douglas, david davis, everett dirksen, charles percy, allen dixon, paul simon, carol moseley-braun, peter fitzgerald, roland burris and barack obama. as i enter this chamber with all humility and with the knowledge of those who came before us, they fought for a better future for the next generation as we shall fight for those who follow. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: sorry to barge in
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here but i've been trying to talk all day. so i appreciate everyone's attention here. it is a short speech, but i've been trying to get over here all day. i first met evan bayh at the championship for indianapolis. one of the most remarkable speeches i have witnessed was in the capitol rotunda when we were there meeting the new senators. senator evan bayh, it was his first speech that i know he had given in the capitol complex. he spoke without notes. and it was a speech laying out his philosophy of government. and it was really spellbinding. i can't imagine the talent that
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he had, and i've witnessed since that time. the state of indiana is losing a superb senator in evan bayh. senator bayh announced his retirement this year and is wrapping up his second term where he's been a fighter for the shoe sherr state. that -- for the hoosier state. soon after earning degrees for indiana university and university of virginia he was elected to the indiana secretary of state, the first of five statewide elections he would win. he served indiana for eight years as governor, led the state to the largest budget surplus ever while creating thousands and thousands of jobs. he also created the 21st century scholars program that other states replicated to ensure all hoosiers would receive a quality education. he was later elected to the senate when he put partisan politics aside and fought for the best interest of indianaans,
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a champion for education and fiscal responsibility. he supported our troops fervently. senator bayh wasn't afraid to call out leaders when he felt an injustice was being done and spoke up often for men and women overseas when necessary. of course being a public servant was nothing new to him. his dad, birch, held the same senate seat and set a fine example. senator bayh achieved an incredible amount for the people of indiana in his relatively short career and he's not done yet. he will continue to work for the lives of people in indiana and all of america. senator bayh is relinquishing the title of senator, but the role he cherishes more than anything is that of father. his twin teenage boys, beau and nick, are the joy of his life and i'm confident they're very proud of their father. i wish susan evan and the boys the very best in all of their
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endeavors. is. mr. ensign: madam president, i rise today to talk about the tax bill that is before us. i was one of just a few on our side who happened to vote against the procedural motion last night, and i want to talk about why i will be opposing the final passage of this bill. this threat that is facing our country today is greater than any external threat that we have faced for some time. it's an internal threat that is stemming from our own government that threatens the very future of our country. in the words of admiral michael mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, it's exactly what he said: "the biggest threat to our national security is our debt. it's not sustainable," he said. our country is heading toward fiscal ruin.
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nail after nail after nail is being put into our coffin of economic catastrophe. the senate is now gearing up to put hundreds of billions of more debt on to our already debt-laden country. i really fear that our country's fate could be sealed. so what should we do? is it too late for the united states to reverse its course? to best answer this question, i am reminded of a famous quote. those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. in order to best determine the path that our country will take into the future, we need to examine the road that we've already gone down. this chart is from the great recession of 1920 that most people in america have never heard about. it shows that 1920 we had a fairly healthy economy with a little over 5% unemployment.
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the next year it had shot up, it had over doubled to almost 12%. well, during that same period of time the economy declined by nearly 7%. in other words, g.d.p. went down by almost 7%. from may of 1920 to july of 1921, automobile production declined by 60% and industrial production in america dropped by almost a third. the stock market also fell dramatically. as a matter of fact, it lost half of its value. so you can see the economic time, 1920-1921 was dire, maybe even more dire than what we face today. well, we had a federal government who decided to take a different course. instead of spending money, what they decided to do was to cut tax rates and cut spending at the same time.
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president harding actually proposed it was enacted by the house and the senate, a dramatic cut in federal spending by one-third. cut the federal budget by one-third. can you imagine that today? cutting the federal budget by one-third? tax rates across the board, marginal tax rates across the board were slashed. the top rate at that time was 75%. they cut it to 25%. so they didn't just cut taxes and raise spending so you balloon the deficit. they cut taxes and cut spending at the same time. what were the results? what do we know about the 1920's? what's a common term we hear about the 1920's? it's called the roaring 20's because the economy boomed do you know the 1920's -- boomed during the 1920's. this unemployment rate, within a
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year and a half it went from 5.2, they cut taxes, federal spending, boom, unemployment rate. people had jobs and guess what happened to the national debt. not the deficit. the national debt. the national debt was cut by one-third during this time. so if you cut taxes, you cut spending, you incentivize the private sector to create jobs. and guess what happened? when people make more money and more people are employed, more money comes into the federal government to actually not only reduce the deficit, but in this case actually pay down some of the national debt. well, let's move forward just a little bit. the great depression. the great depression, it's been said many, many people have said we need to spend money to get us out of an economic downturn. the great depression, we had a
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president, a republican president who started this. he was very much an interventionist president. he actually came in. let me tell you just a few of the things that he did. during the great depression, he came in, had trade protectionist policies, raised taxes and increased federal spending; all kinds of different government projects on infrastructure. we always hear about how infrastructure is going to help take the economy out of the recession if we just spend more and more money. i have another point about just spending on infrastructure and government spending in another country in just a minute. but we have to remember if government -- i ask this simple question, just a simple question to audiences back in nevada where i talk to: if the great depression and spending was going to take us out of that great depression, why did the great depression last as long as it did?
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i actually posed that question to the new o.m.b. director. the new o.m.b. director said he's actually studied the great depression at length. so i asked him the question why didn't government spending take us out of the great depression. his answer was this. he said: we didn't spend enough money, which was -- i was flabbergasted by that statement, but that is his belief, that we did not spend enough money. many people believe that the stimulus bill we had here just a year -- almost two years ago was not large enough that's why we have not had an economic recovery. well, the great depression, the reason we came out of that was not because of government spending. we kind of forgot about the great depression because we went to world war ii and our country completely focused on world war ii. the stock market did not recover to 1929 levels for 25 years.
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so the economic policies, f.d.r. was a great wartime president, but his economic policies were not good for this country. well, where else can we look in history to find whether government spending actually works to take you out of an economic downturn? in japan during the 1990's -- this is actually 1988 to 1998, they had government spending as a percent of g.d.p. go up, and yet in japan -- this is the red line. the blue lined is spending. the red line is unemployment. it kept going up. japan tried six different stimulus bills, a total of $6 trillion on infrastructure, be on all kinds of road projects, bridge projects, everything that you hear about that's supposed
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to be good to take you out of an economic downturn. the 1990's in japan is called the lost decade. they had basically stkaoe role growth during -- zero growth during the 1990's. as a matter of fact, they had another decade of lost economic output. japan certainly is not a good example of a place that you can point to where government spending actually takes you out of an economic downturn. and, as a matter of fact, if you think about this $6 trillion that japan spent, which is much larger than any economic stimulus that we tried, much larger than as a percentage of an economy of what we tried during the great depression, so if it was going to work, why didn't it work in japan? why didn't it work during the great depression? why didn't did work for the stimulus bill that we tried? by the way, president obama tried a stimulus bill, close to $800 billion. president bush, the year before
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that, tried -- and two years before that tried an economic stimulus bill of $150 billion. basically sending checks to people, hoping to get them to spend it. we need good economic policy to get you out of an economic downturn and these temporary little spending bills are not the way to go. so to continue on with this, let me just tell you a little bit about what else happened in japan. first of all, japan's public debt grew -- 1997 it grew to over 100% of g.n.p. by 2009, it's now almost 200% of g.n.p. so this spending not only didn't take them out of an economic downturn, it added to their future problems. and that's unfortunately what we're threatening to continue to do today. well, let me talk about the tax
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extensions that -- are before us today. let me clearly state, i believe that it would be a huge mistake for us to raise taxes on anybody during an economic downturn. i'm for extending the current tax rates and making sure that those tax increases don't go into effect. it's been argued that the other sierksd especially the top rates -- it's been argued that the other side, especially the top rates, are the reason that we rahn the debt and deficits during the bush years. well, if you remember when president bush came into office, similar to what happened when president obama came into office, he inherit add recession. then you had 9/11 happen. and it sent use in an even worse recession. well, in 2001 to stimulate the economy, we did cut taxes. i would say that the mistake we didn't make is that we didn't cut spending at the same time, but at least we cut taxes.
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well, the blue line are revenues, so when the recession hits, we cut taxes and it takes a little while to recover, but after that, revenues -- and these are the 2001 tax cuts, these are the 2003 tax cuts -- revenues actually went up. the reason for our deficit was not that we didn't have enough money coming into the federal government. the reason for our deficit is we spent too much money. republicans were thrown out of office because we spent too much money. but the deficit was not caused by the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. so it would be a mistake to raise taxes during this economic downturn. however, i do believe that we need to cut spending based on the economic models that i've already talked about during the 1920's how it actually worked when you cut taxes and cut
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spending at the same time, how it can actually pull your country out of an economic downturn. well, there are businesses across my state -- i spent a lot of the last couple months touring around my state talking to businesses. one small business owner -- these two women, they started a small company called "nothing bundt cakes." they make little bunt cakes. and, unfortunately, they are really, really good, because i like to eat them, and it's not good for my waistline. but they have a great product, and i was talking to them and they would love to expand their business right now. you know what they said to me? they said, we can't. two reasons: one is, we think our taxes are going to be going up, and so we can't plan for it, and twa was the effects of the health care bill. we don't know how much that's going to cost us. so it's the uncertainty out there of why they would not
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expand their business and they probably could have created another 20, 30, 40 jobs. those jobs didn't get created because of the uncertainty of what's going on. so extending the tax cuts, i believe, extending the current tax rates is a better way to say it -- i believe that's very important to give businesses some certainty. it's not the only thing we need to do to give them certainty, but it's certainly one of those things that is important. in this bill, which i agree with, i think it's good that we're not going to let the death tax go back up to 55%. there are a lot of small businesses out there -- you know, try to imagine trying to plan estate planning and things like that nuclear weapon a small business where you want to see it continue -- and things like that, especially in a small business where you want to see it continue. we need to give more certainty. two years is better than nothing. that's in this bill. but still we need to make that
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longer-term so that you can do estate planning and business continuation planning, because think about, if a small business is owned by a family versus a business that's owned by a corporation. if somebody dies in the corporation, the business just continues. if somebody dies in a small business where the principal owns the business, they may have to sell the business to pay the taxes. that business actually may end up getting closed down and those jobs are lost. so it's important to give some certainty when it comes to death tax planning, estate tax, whatever term you want to use with it. that's important for -- especially for small businesses, ranches, farms, across america. the top rate that we keep hearing criticized as far as extending that, they say it's only 1%, 2%, 3% of the people,
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whatever number i've heard tossed out from the other side. what people fail to realize, though, is that's 25 million to 35 million people are employed by those very small businesses. -- small businesses that make the top rate. so if you raise taxes on those people, they have less money to spend to buy that next piece of equipment. somebody had to make that. if it is in america, that created jobs in america. or they can't hire that next employee. so we don't get the job creation that we want. so raising taxes on small businesses would be a mistake. raising taxes on the middle class would be a mistake. because if they have more taxes, especially if they can plan that long-term, if the rates they know are going to be there for long term, they can put that in part of their budget. if it is just a one-time check -- i actually disagree with the payroll tax that's in it the way it's structured, the same way as in president bush's stimulus
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package a couple years ago where we sent $600 back to individuals. think about the mentality of families. if ness a difficult time that families are going through, if they get a check in the mail and they know they have maybe losing a job or they're barely getting by as it is, they get a little money in the bank. are they going to spend that or are they maybe either going to pay down debt or save that because of the uncertain economic future? a lot of families are making the decision to save that or to pay down the debt, so it is not really stimulating the economy that people think that it will. and the problem also with the payroll tax and some of the other taxes that are in this bill that are extended, it's just adding to our national debt. now, a couple of points on the -- to go back just one quick
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thing. the bush economic growth package, his stimulus bill that he put together, we heard about this being a bipartisan agreement. well that bill was passed 81-16. every single democrat actually voted for that bill. 16 republicans voted against t but it was a bipartisan bill. people grabbed hands and added more money to our debt. they talk about this bill being a compromise. the democrats wanted certain things, the republicans wanted certain things. here's what a compromise is around this body. a compromise is, you want certain things, i want certain things; we'll both get what we want, and we'll pass that debt on to our children and our grand grandchildren. that's how this body is operating right now. we are being fiscally irresponsible with the bill that's before us today. yes, we need to extend the tax rates. but we should have at least sent
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a message to the rest of the world that said, we are going to do something about the debt that is coming. you can put the chart up. we just had the debt commission a few weeks ago come out with a report. the president's debt commission. this is one of the quotes from it. "america cannot be great if we go broke." that's exactly what we're doing is we're going broke. hearken back to the first chart -- admiral mullen's -- remember what the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said. i want to repeat this. this is so important. he said, "the biggest threat to our national security is our debt ... it's not sustainable." this debt is real. it's a huge threat to the very future and prosperity of america. this bill before us is sending a
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message to the markets, to the bond markets. it's saying that, you know, even though the debt commission came out and said, we need to trim this by at least $4 trillion, this spending and this deficit that we have going, you know what? we're just going to add hundreds of billions more to that problem. so i believe that what we have before us is even going to get worse. before this bill that we vote on today, these are the projections, the president's projections. the red bars here are interest that we pay every year on the national debt. interest, like interest on your credit card. the family pays interest on the credit carksd doesn't get anything for it. it is just because of their ov overspending habits. well, this is the result of congress's overspend habits. in 2011, next year, it is glg to be close to -- it is going to be close to $250 billion. no roads, no schools, no
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veterans benefits, no anything. that's just money that we're paying to the saudis, chinese, other foreign governments who have bought our debt. 2012, goes up further, up further. 2020, it's over $900 billion a year in interest on the national debt. that's more than we pay for social security, medicare, or medicaid, or national defense. and you get nothing for that. this path that we're on is unsustainable. greece earlier this year, we saw what happened to greece. within 48 hours there was an economic licialtly implosion and if they wouldn't have had the european union to bail them out, their country literal lit would have gone bankrupt. ireland not too long ago, within about seven days, the same thing happened in ireland. once again they had the european union to bail them out. what happens if america -- same thing happens here? just this morning --
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mr. president, just this morning -- this is what moody, one of the ratings agencies, said. "unless there are offsetting measures" -- that means spending cuts "the package will be credit negative for the u.s. and increase the likelihood of a negative outlook on the u.s. government's aaa rating during the next two years." in common language, what does this say in this says we're becoming a bigger risk and it's threatening our aaa rating, which means, if this rating goes down, we pay higher interest rates. if you're more of a risk, just like an individual, if you are more of a risk, when you borrow money, you pay a higher interest rate. this number here, if that aaa rating -- this is based hon a aaa rating. niece numbers get much worse if we lose our aaa rating.
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so, mr. president, the bill that we have before us, we should have sent a message while we were continuing the current tax rates, we should have, if we wanted to do the unemployment benefits, which i believe we should have extended, we should have done that with spending cuts in other places. senator coburn has a package to vote on of real spending cuts. i've offered amendment after amendment after amendment on this floor on spending cuts. we always hear during campaigns, "i'm for fiscal responsibility, many a for this aim for that." when it comes to voting, we never seem to get the votes. when are we going to actually show some fiscal responsibility around this place? this bill should have at least $100 billion, $200 billion in offsets. this bill says by the congressional budget office and the joint committee on taxation says that it will add $900 billion to the debt, $900 billion.
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well, shouldn't we have at least offset some of that to show the world that we were serious about fiscal responsibility? that's all i'm saying that we should have done and i didn't mean vietnaming against this bill. -- and why i'm voting against this bill because i don't think we can just continue to add more and more and more debt. the detect commission had it right. -- the debt commission had it right. "america cannot be great if america is broke." so let me conclude, the 1920's showed when you're in an economic grown downturn, when you cut spending an cut tsm rates at the same time, you can have economic recovery without adding to the debt actually because the economy grows and you've held the line on spending, you can actually pay down the debt. that's what we did at the late-1990's. we didn't actually cut spending then. but we at least slowed the rate of growth of, as amended,ing as republicans in congress with a democrat president and we had economic growth which got us
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not only to a balanced budget but to where we were paying down some of the debt. that's really what we need to do now is start -- going back to 2008 spending levels. the spending increased well over double digits the last couple of years around this place. and we were spending plenty of money in 2008 so let's go back to 2008 levels. that will save us a couple hundred billion dollars. and then let's work on eliminating, as senator coburn has identified, a lot of the wasteful programs in the country, which is at least another $150 billion in wasteful programs that he's discovered f. we send a message to the rest of the world that this country is actually serious about debt, then we will continue to be the leader of the world and our economy can continue to grow and america's best days really can be ahead of us. but if we choose to continue to be fiscally irresponsible, then i'm afraid we could be headed down a path that we cannot reverse. and if what happened to greece and what happened to ireland
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happens to the united states, as i mentioned before, there is no one to bail us out. so we need to start acting in a fiscally responsible way, not as republicans, not as democrats but as americans, and to say to these young people, like we have sitting here before us today, you know, we care about you and we care about your future and we want america to be as great for you as it has been for us. and the only way to do that is to make sure we get our fiscal house in order and quit passing so much debt on to future generations. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader is recognized. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask onsent that after i've completed my remarks, that the senator from rhode island, senator jack reed, be recognized. the presiding officer: is there beings? without objection, so ordered. -- is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, i've listened carefully to the remarks of the senator from nevada, and i respect him, though i must disagree with him on several particulars. when i look back on history, i see it differently. what i see is a great depression facing america that led to
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record unemployment, business failures, farm failures, one of the worst economic conditions faced by america in modern tim times. the election of franklin delano roosevelt in 1932 and his ascension to office in 1933 ushered in a new approach, an approach that was called the new deal, that basically said we are going to take control of the situation, we're going to stand behind your deposits in the bank to make sure you don't lose th them. the bank fails, you won't be broke. federal deposit insurance corporation. we're going to put the watchdogs on wall street to make sure that people don't do things there that are basically if not illegal, unwise, and make certain that we have good business practices there. we're going to stand behind the farmers. before we let them lose their farm, we're going to try to get them through a difficult year so they can be there to fight again. we're actually going to create jobs across america, first for those who are working, we're going to create a minimum wage
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so that people know that they can get a basic salary to live on. and for those who can't find work in the private sector, franklin roosevelt said we'll create w.p.a. jobs and other jobs across america building things that will serve us for again trietionz come. -- for generations to come. the new deal was launched and not long after it was launched, the voices similar to ones we've heard this evening came forward and said wait a minute, we're spending money we don't have, we're going into debt as a nation. and those voices started to prevail. and so franklin roosevelt and the new deal started to bac back off. and as they backed off the stimulus to the american economy, an unemployment rate, which had gone down from over 20% to 13% or 14%, went back up again to 19% and languished. because with the lack of stimulus into the economy, america was just not getting well and strong. then something came along which the senator from nevada failed to mention. he spoke about how government
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spending really doesn't invigorous an economy, and i would suggest to him he left out one phrase in his speech that i'd like him to look up, world war ii. when we went into that great war to stop hitler, to stop the forces of naziism, fascism across america, we mobilized this country and put it to work building the war machine. great sacrifice from families across america. rosy the rivet. mom went to work because dad was off fighting the war. everyone pitched in. we went into debt as a nation but we won that war and we came out of it with a strong, thriving economy, one of the strongest in the world. so to argue that government spending, which there was a lot of it during world war ii, didn't have anything to do with economic stimulus is to ignore the obvious, it did. now let's fast forward to where we are today and where we are tonight. i see my colleague, the senator from rhode island, is here and he's been chairman of the joint economic commission. he understands the economic
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issues as well or better than most of us who serve in the united states senate. but i got a little insight into our economy by serving on the deficit commission, the president's deficit commission, for the last 10 months, and we met week after week, month after month and talked about the state of the american economy and the debt of our nation. i came to the conclusion, which 11 out of the 18 members of the commission agreed with, that the current situation is unsustainable. we are, in fact, borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar we spend. whether that dollar is spent for a new missile system in the pentagon or whether it's spent for food stamps for the poorest of the poor in america, we borrow 40 cents out of every dollar spent. and we borrow it from countries who are becoming our creditors, or mortgagors, and countries like china, the opec nations, korea ago, japan, saudi arabia. they are -- korea, japan, saudi arabia. they are the ones loaning us the
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money. and of course it calls into question whether or not they think we are creditworthy, and that is why we need to do something about our debt as we get more deeply into debt. now, the senator from nevada, when he talked about the state of the economy and the debt we're facing, failed to tell the whole story. i always say the story should begin with what the state of the economy was the day that president william jefferson clinton left office. at that moment in time, the accumulated debt of america from george washington through president clinton's eight years was $5 trillion. at that time, we were in surplus on our annual budgets and president clinton turned to incoming president george w. bush and said, next year we project $120 billion surplus for your budget. so we're leaving you in good shape. not with re red ink but blank i. $5 trillion debt, $120 billion
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surplus for the coming year. eight years later, at the end of george w. bush's administration, the national debt had grown from $5 trillion to $12 trillion, more than doubled in eight yea years. and president george w. bush said to incoming president oba obama, i'm not leaving you a sur plus, i'surplus, i'm leaving yoa $1.2 trillion debt for the next year. $120 billion surplus, george w. bush inherited when he came to office; $1.2 trillion debt he left behind. how did we reach such a sorry state in a mere eight years? first, president bush was the first president in history to cut taxes in the midst of a war. it's counterintuitive and he did it. he believed the economy would grow. it didn't work. and as a result, we got more deeply into debt. he gave tax cuts to the wealthiest in america and they are 9 least likely -- they are the least likely from an economic point of view to invigorate our economy. and then he turned around and had several programs he signed into law that were totally
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unpaid for, just adding to our debt. that's where we find ourselves today. that's where the deficit commission finds itself. and so just a few weeks ago, we reported, 11 out of 18 senators -- pardon me, 11 out of 18 members, voting in favor of the deficit commission. two weeks later, here i stand on the floor of the united states senate and we are considering a bill which will add $858 billion to the national debt. that isn't something we anticipated when the deficit commission labored for ten months trying to figure out ways to cut $4 trillion out of the debt over ten yearsmen years --. here we are two weeks later adding this money to our debt. i would tell you that i vote for it and die with this specific reason in mind. i believe that unless we do something definitive and decisive, we are not going to come out of this recession as quickly as we should, more people will lose their jobs, and our debt will get worse. we need to stimulate and invigorate this economy. i think the president was right
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two years ago, president obama, when he had a stimulus package. i might remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that a third of it was tax cuts, which is their mantra in good times and bad, a third of it was tax cuts, a third of it was safety net, and a third of it was basically designed to build the infrastructure of this country. i thought it was a good stimulus package and i do believe it created millions of jobs or at least saved millions of jobs that would have been lost. the same holds true today. we need to invigorate this economy and move it forward, and that's why i support this package. now, let me tell you something else. there are things in this tax package which will be voted on tonight or early tomorrow morning which i find awful and indefensible. two in particular. that we would extend tax cuts to the wealthiest people in america at this moment in our history i think is indefensible. secondly, that we would segregate out a small, small group of the wealt wealthiest pe in america and say we're going to give them blessed treatment
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when it comes to the estate tax they pay i think is mindless. it's not going to invigorate the economy in the name of justice and fairness, these people who have done well should pay back some of it to the country that has allowed them their prosperity. and instead, the republicans have insisted that these, the wealthiest of wealthy in ameri america, should receive more. this chart really tells you what's happening in this country and it's a scary storyment not just sad but scary. -- scary story. not just sad but scary. the accumulation of wealth for the richest 1% of the population in america. in 1976, the richest 1% of america had 8.9% of the wealth in america. 1976. top 1%, 8.9%. now go to 2007. the top 1% of population in america has 23.5% of the wealth. i don't begrudge anyone prosperity, wealth and comfort, but they are getting wealthy at the expense of a society which
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is not providing for those in lower income categories. the people in lower- and middle-income categories are falling further and further and further behind. that's why we cannot allow this tax cut that otherwise would have been reimposed as a tax increase january 1 on them to occur. that's why i've swallowed hard and said, i'll vote for this package even though i think the breaks for the wealthy really can't be justified from an economic or viewpoint of just a moment i just don't think they can. but that's the reality that we face. i do want to say one thing before i yield to my friend from rhode island. mark my words, write them down, put them away in a desk drawer and pull them out april 1 and they're this -- when the obama administration comes to congress and says, now that you have voted for additional tax cuts and spending, members of congress, you must now increase the debt ceiling of america because we need to borrow the
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money to cover what you voted for. including the vote that took place this december which creates $858 billion more in debt. and you will hear from the other side of the aisle screaming, wailing, whining and crying that there is no way that they can vote to increase the debt ceiling of america. the same people who will have voted for this tax package, increasing the debt of america by $858 billion, will refuse to pay the check when it comes to the table after the dinner. they had the big banquet, they announced the tax cuts for the wealthy, and when the check comes to the table and says, incidentally, now we have to borrow that money, they're going to say no way, we're fiscal conservative, we don't borrow money. no, but you spend it, and they've spent it either directly on spending or indirectly on tax cuts. that will come between april 1 and july 1.
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and i am sorry that as part of this tax package we do not have an increase in the debt ceiling. those who are going to want to waive the banner of tax cuts and claim all credit for tax cuts should also stand up and take their medicine because we're going to have to borrow the money to pay for it. and we will need their votes when it comes time to address the debt ceiling. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. reatd: parliamentar reed: r. i understand there is a unanimous consent that i am to be recognized and then senator mccain; is that rect? the presiding officer: the agreement was simply to recognize the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: i would at this time ask that senator mccain be recognized as soon as i complete my remarks and then senator bingaman be recognized at the conclusion of senator -- pardon? and then senator cardin be recognized. and if there's a republican seeking recognition between senator bingaman and senator
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cardin, that that senator be recognized also. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. and i thank my colleagues. mr. president, i rise to discuss the tax proposal before us. we are at a critical moment. our economy is slowly climbing from the depths of a deep recession. but without additional support, it could easily backfire, and we can't afford to let that happen. there are still too many americans, 15 million, who desperately want the opportunity to work but can't find a job in this difficult environment. my top priority is jobs, creating jobs and sustaining demand to continue to grow jobs in this country. i have serious, serious concerns about several provisions of this bill that will not help us accomplish that goal of creating and sustaining jobs. but i will support this package because right now back in my home state of rhode island, there are approximately 65,000 men and women from all walks of
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life who are unemployed and need this bill. many of them are individuals in the middle of their careers who have worked since they were 18 or 21 continuously, productively and now they find themselves for the first time in their life without any job and if we do not act without the means to support their family and provide for their children. this bill preserves emergency unemployment insurance to help these individuals make ends meet. help them to hold their families together. it will help ensure that they can buy their grocery, pay their utility bills an literally keep a roof over their heads in many cases. their consideration is my primary concern. moreover this does not just help the jobless, they boost the entire economy as the unemployed spend their benefits at local businesses. america wants us to focus on
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creating jobs. for much of the past two years, democrats proposed many bills that would help middl middle-cls families and small businesses only to be thwarted or slowed by procedural roadblocks and sometimes disingenuous claims. we could not break filibusters last saturday that would have passed the middle class tax cut and renewed unemployment benefits. on several occasions over the past several months, we have had legislative initiatives for tax extenders that would have included a national house and trust fund, key infrastructure incentives. those too were thwarted by procedural roadblocks. but now we are faced with the specter of a tax decrease on the middle class during this dispiriting economic time. time -- time if we do not act. perhaps we could have avoided this situation. the bush tax cuts which i opposed had an artificial
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termination point in order to fix them into the deficit projections. but, again, we're here today at the last minute and it appears that the only path that our republican colleagues would set is the one before us. indeed, republicans will not let this train leave the station unless the wealthiest hitched a ride too. the challenge we face is the need to sustain and accelerate growth so employment increases while also recognizing the need to reduce the deficit once the economy is stable again. that is no small challenge as a number of budget deficit commissions have suggested in recent weeks, we have to consider reform in medicare, social security, defense funding, tax expenditures, investment in domestic programs, all of them to stablize the deficit in the long term. i don't relish that task and i don't imagine that america's families relish it either.
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however, this is a reality that we must confront as our economy improves. it's a reality that will be difficult. it's a reality that is a great challenge, but it is one we must face. now, this bill includes some provision that's will provide economic growth. as i've mentioned before, the effect of unemployment insurance extension is not just on the individual recipients, it's estimated by nonpartisan experts that nearly $2 of economic activity is generated for each dollar in benefits. that is a very effective stimulus for the economy. the bill also includes a 2% cut in the payroll taxes paid by workers and after local or state estate sales taxes, reduction in payroll taxes have the biggest impact on families living on -- this provision is estimated to promote more economic activity than it costs and it will be the first raise that many workers
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have seen in many years. in addition the proposal contains a host of other benefits for working and middle-class families by extending the child tax credit for 10.5 million families and extension of a partially refundable tax credit of up t to $2,500 for the cost of college tuition. all of this economic activity means jobs and more money in the pockets of hard-working americans. these are targeted, well-designed provisions worthy of support. indeed forecasters as well as economists like mark zandi suggested that this bill will help maintain the fragile recovery and could lead to a one point drop in the unemployment rate and perhaps as much as 1% increase in g.d.p. in 2011. as compared to previous baselines that took into account only the extension of the middle class tax cut and expiring provisions like the alternate minimum tax. there is from experts considered
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opinion that this will help grow the economy, reduce the unemployment rate, put people back to work. the bill also recognizes the need to build on the small business lending and tax credit bills we enacted this summer and fall. indeed, the provision to allow businesses to expand 1 -- expense 100% of all of their investments in 2011 is expected to generate $50 billion in additional business investment next year. that's private companies investing in private enterprises to put people to work on private payrolls. the bill also encourages businesses to invest in the future products by the -- to keep us competitive in a very competitive world. the bill also recognizes the need for clean domestic energy by continuing the renewable energy production grants for wind, solar, geothermal and a host of other technologies. and in this regard the bill responsibly ensure that's the tax rates in place for lower income and middle income families stay as they are today.
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it maintains the middle class tax cut. indeed the great bulk and the benefits of this bill will be directed to stimulating the economy and assisting middle-income families. but in the face of this deficit it is very difficult to justify the provisions of the bill for the wealthiest americans. because they provide negligible economic growth while adding to the deficit. in fact, working against the two great issues, stimulate growth and begin to control the deficit. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office and other experts, the decision to provide millionaires and billionaires with tax breaks won't generate many jobs because they're more apt to save these benefits than circulate them in the local economies in the united states, increase the demand, increased demand for workers. the to insist on such an aggressive estate tax proposal is very difficult to justify. instead of adopting a
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commonsense proposal that would have exempted well over 90% of all of our states, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle demanded that the bill contain a tax break worth more than $25 billion over the next two years for the top 1 quarter of 1% -- one-quarter of 1% of all estates. i'm slightly heartened that these provisions are not permanent. while i would support an effort to move or modify these provisions at the very least in the future, they have to be the first on the list of those tough decisions that we have to face in order to reduce the deficit. and we do have to address the deficit through tax reform, eliminating tax expenditures. there is a perception, i think, that is -- that tax cuts are free. as my colleague from illinois suggested, failing to link the debt ceiling with this particular legislation can give the impression that we can cut taxes and there's no effect on deficit. these tax cuts do affect the
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deficit. we have to recognize that. when we come back to face the dif issues as we did in the 1990's. i supported president clinton's efforts, which led to a balanced budget, which led to a surplus, which led to employment gains, those decisions involve revenue, cutting entitlements, cutting defense spending, making a lot of difficult choices. we'll have to face those choices again. we are at a point where the benefits of this bill are necessary to help struggling families throughout country to maintain the growth that we've seen, to accelerate it because it's not adequate. we have to move forward. i hope, mr. president, that this package will pass. the reality is that the benefits will be perceived by -- received by 98.8% of rhode islanders, particularly the 65,000 who are
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out of work and who would suffer without this bill. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: mr. president, according to my calculations it's been 42 days since the people of this great nation of ours spoke, and they spoke in a very strong fashion. it was described by the president of the united states as a is shalacking. it was described by others as a tsunmai. and the house of representatives, as we know, passed to republican hands and this body, there was six additional members from my side. and i thought that the message was pretty clear, that the american people said enough with the spending. enough with the pork barrel
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earmark spending. enough of mortgaging our children and our grandchildren's futures. i don't know of a single pundit or observer of the chattering class who didn't say the message was clear from the american people, the phenomenon of the tea party was taxed enough already, but they were against the spending, the earmarking, the approval -- earmarking. the approval rating of congress is somewhere, depending on which poll you look at, 10, 12, 14, 16% approval ratings. overwhelming disapproval of the way we do business here. so at 12:15 today -- 12:15, my office received this appropriations bill. this appropriations bill.
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1,924 pages long and contains funding for all 12 of the annual appropriations bills for a grand total of $1.1 trillion. you know it's important to note that this 1,924 pages is only the legislative language and doesn't include the thousands of pages of -- of report language which contains the details of the billions of dollars in earmarks. and i am sure major policy changes written without a hearing, written without scrutiny, written without the input of the majority of the members of this body, written by a handful of senators who happen to be members of the appropriations committee. and the american people said just 42 days ago, enough.
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are we -- are we tone deaf? are we stricken with amnesia? what is going on here? we -- i -- we've just begun to look at this monstrosity and we're continuing to uncover which earmarks the appropriators decided to fund thanks to a new online database. we know what earmarks were requested by members and how much those projects would cost the american people if they were all funded. organizations, taxpayers against earmarks,, and taxpayers for common sense, joined forces to create a database. according to the data they compiled for fiscal year 2011 members requested over 39,000 earmarks totaling ove over $130 billion. those were requested. i encourage every american to go
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to the website that says, "ending spending --, study it, and make yourselves aware of how your elected officials seek to spend your money. in the short time that i've had to review this massive piece of legislation, we have already identified approximately 6,488 earmarks totaling nearl nearly $8.3 billion. $8.3 billion. when we're running record deficits, when there's a $40,000 debt for every man, woman, child in america, we're going to have 6,488 earmarks totaling nearly 8 billion. $277,000 for potato pest management in wisconsin. you'll notice that there is a location for literally every one of these earmarks.
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$246,000 for bovine tuberculosis in michigan and minnesota. $522,000 for cranberry and blueberry disease breeding in new jersey. $500,000 for oyster safety in florida. one of my favorites, $349,000 for swine waste management in north carolina. another one of my all-time favorites that's always in there, $413,000 for peanut research in alabama. $247,000 for virus free wine grapes in washington. $208,000 for beaver management in north carolina. $94,000 for blackbird management in louisiana.
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$165,000 for maple syrup research in vermont. $235,000 for noxious weed management in nevada. that's another one that when you total it up over the years comes into millions. $100,000 for the edgar allan poe cottage visitors center in new york. one of my other all-time favorites that is always on here every year, $300,000 for the polynesian voyaging society in hawaii. some people are watching and thinking i'm making this up. i'm not making it up. $300,000 for the polynesian voyaging society in hawaii. $400,000 for solar parking canopies and plug-in electric stationness kansas. additionally the bill earmarks
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$720,000 to compensate ranchers in minnesota and michigan. the gray wolf program is under intense scrutiny for wasting millions of taxpayers dollars every year to -- quote -- "recover endangered wolves that are overpopulating the west and midwest." my state has a similar program but ranchers in my state aren't getting $727,000 in this bill. i'll have a lot more to say about this bill this week. i assure my colleagues we'll spend a lot of time talking about this bill and the outrageous number of earmarks it contains. but let me just say this, it's december 14, 22 days away from the beginning of a new congress and nearly three full months into fiscal year 2011. and yet, we have not debated a single spending bill or
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considered any amendments to cut costs or to get our debt under control. furthermore, the majority decided that they just didn't feel like doing a budget this year. how's that responsible leadership? this is the ninth omnibus appropriations bill we have considered in this body since the year 2000. that's shameful. we should be embarrassed by the fact that we care so little about doing the people's business that we continuously put off fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities until literally the last minute. one thing is abundantly clear, we have not -- the majority has not learned the lessons of last month's election. the american people couldn't have been more clear, they're tired of the wasteful spending, they're tired of big government, they're tired of sweetheart deals for special interest, and
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they're tired of business as usual in washington. and they certainly are tired of massive bills just like this one put together behind closed doors and rammed through the congress at the last minute so that no one has the opportunity to read them and no one really knows what kind of waste is in them. let me be clear about one thing, if the majority leader insists on proceeding to this monstrosity, the american people will know what's in it. i'll be joined by many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle to ensure that every single word of this bill is read aloud here on the senate floor. i encourage my friends on the other side of the aisle to rethink their strategy. let's move forward with a clean continuing resolution to keep the government in operation for 45 days. let the new congress that reflects the will of the american people address these
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issues in the long term. let's not go out the door this congress with a whole bunch of 6,800-some earmark projects that the rest of us have not read. so i encourage my friends on the other side of the aisle to rethink their strategy. let's move forward. a short-term continuing resolution, 45 days, senator gregg has an amendment pending to do that. the majority may be able to strong-arm enough members into voting for this omnibus, but they won't win in the end. the american people will remember, and i predict we'll see a repeat of last november 2 in the very near future. so, mr. president, here we are on december 14 after many, last year being in session on christmas eve. apparently we may be in session
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again on christmas eve. i might point out not having been in session a single friday the entire year. not being in session a single friday the entire year, and yet just this afternoon the majority leader said we can be here on christmas and new year's and that we could be in session until january 4 before the new congress is sworn in. well, obviously the majority leader and the majority can do that, but i don't think the american people think very much of what we're doing here. in fact, i think they're going to be deeply, deeply disappointed and greatly angered because we have really just, with consideration of this bill, repudiated all they thought they were standing for and voting
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for, and into this kind of behavior and into the earmarking and pork-barrel spending an end to the mortgaging of our children and grandchildren's future. it is with great regret that i again have to come to the floor as i have for many years and be critical of my colleagues who are good and honorable and decent americans. but this process, this process of earmarking kh-rbgs this is an example of -- which this is an example of, is not honorable behavior. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. bingaman: mr. president, i want to speak for a few minutes on the tax package that is before the senate and that we will be voting on tomorrow. yesterday the senate voted to proceed to this $857 billion or
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$858 billion package that would have the effect of extending all personal income tax rates tpwaor years, sub -- for two years, substantially reducing the estate tax. now, i think the way to evaluate this package is on two basic grounds. first of all, how does it help us deal with the very substantial economic problem we face with trying to strengthen the recovery from this deep economic downturn that we've experienced? and, second, how is it helping us to set a long-term course to achieve fiscal stability? on the first issue, the economic recovery, there's much in the package that i would strongly
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support and that i do strongly support. we should protect 98% of american households from any tax increase. we should extend benefits to our fellow americans who are unable to find jobs in this period of very high unemployment. we should continue key business incentives such as section 1603 program which has provided a critical lifeline to the renewable energy industry. if the only economic imperative that we faced was how to strengthen this recovery from the downturn, i would be voting for the package. but as i said at the outset, that's not our only economic imperative. our dire fiscal condition requires us also to adopt a strategy that will dramatically reduce deficits in coming years. frankly, i'm disappointed by the
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plan's shortsightedness on that issue, and, therefore, i did oppose the cloture motion yesterday, and i plan to vote against the package tomorrow when the vote is called. if we're serious about addressing the deficit, we need to admit that we cannot afford all of this package. in 2001, i came to the floor to explain my opposition to enacting the so-called bush tax cuts. at that time the congressional budget office was projecting budget surpluses. as i explained then, i viewed the 2001 tax cuts as carrying a higher price tag than we as a nation could afford. the 2001 cuts which were accelerated in 2003 reduced the stream of revenue to the federal government by an amount that virtually guaranteed the elimination of our anticipated budget surplus and instead ensured that substantial
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deficits would once again become the norm in our federal budget. the result, which is a federal debt that today nears $14 trillion, could have been avoided under the bush tax structure only if there had been major cuts in spending at the same time. as we all know, no such cuts in spending were ever proposed by the president and no such cuts in spending were ever adopted by the congress. in fact, in the years following the bush tax cuts, spending increased very substantially. the bush tax cuts were larger than we could afford when they were adopted, including interest costs, those tax cuts account for nearly 55% of the deficit that's projected to the end of the next decade. once again, in my view, we cannot afford to extend those tax cuts in their entirety
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today. the nation's debt now stands at 62% of gross domestic product. the congressional budget office says that if we continue on our present course, that debt will reach 90% of gross domestic product by 2020 and 185% of gross domestic product by 2035. this concern is not merely academic. our growing deficit has stark consequences for our government's ability to meet essential priorities. at current levels, government revenue in 2025 will be enough only to cover interest on the debt, medicare, medicaid, and social security. and the threat to american prosperity is severe. by 2035, rising debt could reduce per capita gross domestic product by as much as 15%. in recent weeks we've had several expert commissions tell
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us that we need to get the debt under control. they've offered thoughtful, practical proposals to do that. the national commission on fiscal responsibility and reform released a six-part plan that would achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020. five of the six senators that served on that commission supported the plan. two weeks earlier a bipartisan commission headed by former congressional budget office director alice rivlin and my former colleague pete domenici issued their own report, and both bipartisan groups concluded that to be credible, any deficit-reduction plan must impose limits on spending and must increase revenue. for much of this congress, the excuse for deferring serious action on deficit and debt is that we should wait and see what
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these commissions decide. now that these commissions have finished their work, this bill is our first chance to begin considering their recommendations. i see no evidence that we are doing so in this legislation. i understand we can't tackle both tasks simultaneously. that is stimulating the economy and reducing the deficit. we cannot attack both of those tasks with equal force at the same time. the decision which i have supported has been to focus first on stimulating the economy, but that focus does not excuse us from also taking the relatively easy steps that are available to reduce future deficits. i agree with the commission for a responsible federal budget whose leaders argued that -- quote -- "the critical objective is to pair any stimulus for the short term with a credible plan to reduce the debt in the medium and long term." we should be talking about what
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triggers to attach, how to pay for the new package over the decade, what spending cuts and tax reforms to make. it's unfortunate that that conversation has not taken place. because the cost of the package is not offset, it has been, unfortunately, larded up with very wasteful provisions that do little to stimulate the economy. the most problematic is the one many colleagues have commented on. that's the $129 billion to extend tax cuts that benefit only the very high-income american households and reduce the estate tax below 2009 rates. opponents of the bill say because the economy is weak now is not the time to allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest households to expire. but a congressional budget office report issued earlier this year tears down this argument. they examine 11 options to stimulate growth and job
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creation and they concluded that the extension of the 2001 and 2003 ta tax cuts was dead flaft that list of 11. they further found that extending the tax cuts for high-income households in particular would rate lower in effectiveness than extending all of the tax cuts because, as i quote -- and i quote "higher-income households would probably save a large fraction of their increase in aftertax income." there's one comparison that puts this sharply into perspective, at least to my view it z last month the president announced that because of concerns about the deficit, he was proposing to freeze all civilian federal salaries, at a savings of about $2.5 million a year. i stated at the time that i supported his decision, but we -- in this package we will erase those savings nearly three times
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over merely with the reduction of the estate tax from the 2009 levels. it is not -- is it not enough to reinstate the 2009 estate tax provisions, which exempted $7 million in assets per couple and taxed amounts above that at 45%? under this package, the exemption is dialed up to $10 million per couple. the vat reduced to 35%. so instead of -- the rate is reduced to 35%. so instead of reaching only one out of 400 american estates -- americans involved -- this plan would subject one out of 100 estates to any tax whatsoever. so while a gs-3 clerk at the department of agriculture office in albuquerque will have her salary frozen in the name of fiscal responsibility, the heirs
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of a $50 million estate will save $5.35 million. in my view, this is unwarranted generosity that will cost our treasury an added $7 billion a year. americans are right to question how we can be serious about reducing the deficit when we're ready to give wealthy heirs a windfall with no benefit whatsoever to the economic recovery. i also am troubled that the package makes the tax code permanently temporary and falsely assumes that we'll be able to achieve a different outcome when we debate this issue two years from now. the cover of the "wall street journal" points out in a story entitled "temporary tax code puts nation in a lasting bind," this is in today's "wall street journal." the piece opens with this
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sentence. it says "welcome to the world of the temporary tax code." mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the text of that article be included in the record after my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bingaman: a main argument being used in support of the extension is that this is the only proposal we can get our republican colleagues to agree to. in my view, that is an uncharitable view of our republican colleagues. i think they would embrace a more responsible proposal if they felt that they were required to do so. the fact that not a single republican supported either the proposal senator baucus brought to the floor or the proposal that senator schumer brought to the floor last week, in my view, supported the fact that no republicans supported either one of those proposals was based on their expectation, which was
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apparently accurate, that if they remained intransigent, democrats would give into their demands to stendle all the tax cuts. -- to extend all the tax cuts. those demands reflected in the bill now before us do not acknowledge the serious problem that we face with our deficits, and i've explained why. mr. president, i know that there are other colleagues waiting to speak, and let me just point out that there are also some important provisions that were included in the recovery act which unfortunately have been left out of this tax package, and i'm informed that they've been left out because republican leaders have insisted that recovery act provisions not be extended. there are some of the provisions in the recovery act that have been extremely beneficial to economic activity in my state. the build america bonds program,
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for example -- i think it is very unfortunate that that program is not being continued as part of this package. the package also ends a provision that senators crapo and grassley and i fought to include in the recovery act which raises the bank qualified limit, which was last adjusted in 1986, for small municipalities that sell debt to community banks. this has significantly reduced rural governments' borrowing governments and created jobs and needed infrastructure improvements in thousands of communities. i'm disappointed that tha has nt been continued. there was a reflectionive antirecovery act position that republican leaders have taken, and i believe that has been reflected also in the provisions dealing with energy. i will -- in my full remarks, i
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will elaborate on that. mr. president, in spite of the positive provisions in this legislation to strengthen the economic recovery -- and there are some which i strongly support -- the bill, in my view, moves us in the wrong direction with regard to our other major problem, which is deficit reduction. on that issue, it will start the 112th congress off on the wrong track, and for that reason, i will oppose the legislation tomorrow when the vote is called. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland is recognized. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. i take this time to talk about the tax relief unemployment insurance reauthorization and job creation act, the tax package, the senate amendment 4753. this is the tax bill that we've been talking about for the last several weeks. and the first thing i just want to point out to my colleagues is that this bill is the result of
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a compromise. and like any compromise, there's some provisions that i strongly support and there are provisions that i would have preferred not to see in this legislation. that i oppose. and you have to evaluate the positive aspects as well as those provisions that i would prefer not to be included. there's some very important provisions that are included in this legislation that i fought long and hard to make sure we accomplished before congress adjourns this year. first and foremost is a provision that would extend the current tax rates for middle-income families. if we don't do that by december 31, those tax rates would go up and the withholding schedules would be changed. the bill also extends unemployment insurance, a matter that i have voted on the floor when i have spoken -- one i have spoken on the floor about. the fairness and importance to our economy of extending unemployment compensation
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benefits for those who are unemployed giving the more recent unemployed the same benefits we gave the earlier unemployed under -- during this downturn in our economy. those benefits would be available through 2011. i think that's an extremely important provision, not just for the individual who depends upon it in order to pay her mortgage or to pay their bills, but i think it's important because it speaks to the fairness of our society during a recession. this is an insurance program. it is meant to provide benefits to those who have been in our workforce who have lost their jobs, and as i will point out also, it's very important for our economy as far as our recovery is concerned. the legislation also extends the child tax credit. this is very important to middle-income families in our community, for that child credit to be available. and it's refundable, which is a provision that helps the lower-wage families particularly. it extends the american
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opportunity tax credit to help middle-income families be able to afford college education for their children up to $2,500 a year. that can make the difference between a person being able to go to a college or not, or go to a school that they want to go to, which is not only important for that family, it's also important for our country, investing in education is a best investment in order for america to be competitive internationally. the legislation also extends certain green energy tax credits. well, that means jobs. investing in green energy will help our economy create and keep jobs here in america. it will help us on an energy policy. it will not only be friendly towards our environment but help us in regards to national security so we don't have to import oil from countries who disagree with our way of life. this legislation also provides important tools for business to
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invest in job growth by allowing expensing. mr. president, that means simply that a company that makes an investment in order to create more jobs will be able to write off that investment during 2011 rather than having to wait and amortize it over a longer period of time. a major incentive to get businesses more actively involved in make the investments we need to create jobs. it's particularly important for small companies. i hear frequently from small businesses in my own state of maryland that tell me how difficult it is for that business owner to make the type of investments necessary to take advantage of job growth and expensing helps them make that decision now, giving confidence to our economy, which is something we desperately need. now, these provisions and others -- and there are many others in the bill -- will help our economy. i need not remind the members of this body that we've a 9.8%
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unemployment rate in this country. that's not accept ible to any one of us. it is the wrong time to allow tax rates to go up for middle-income families when you have that type of unemployment in this nation. the provisions that i outline will help us in job growth. the economists are in agreement. the passage of these provisions will save and create millions of jobs here in america. and that's what we need to do. we need to get our people to work, because then we can deal with the other tough issues of this country. and i'll get to it -- including deficit reduction and getting our budget in balance. it is difficult to do that until we get our economy back on track. so the first priority is to get americans back to work, and the provisions i outlined will all help in that regard. it's very clear to me from the constituents in maryland that during these tough economic times, it's the wrong time -- the wrong time -- to increase rates for middle-income families, and i made it clear
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that i would do everything i could to make sure that wouldn't happen. the largest (a) amount of the $858 billion -- the largest amount of the $858 billion that that package provides in tax reervelings the overwhelming amount, will go to -- the overwhelming amount will go to benefit middle-income families. but there are other provisions that i don't believe are helpful for job growth in mechanic. i don't believe they're worth the cost for the jobs that it may create. and i want to refer to two of those provisions that i strongly object to. and i would have preferred not being in this package. the extension of tax breaks for the higher-income wage earners. they'll do very little to spur additional economic growth. let me just give you an example. if you're making $1 million a year and you get thousands of dollars of tax relief provided under this legislation, the odds that you're going to spend mured and help stimulate the economy is very remote. it is another thing if you are unemployed and get an
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unemployment check. that money goes back into the economy and will help create jobs. but people who are well-off, millionaires, the economic benefit of extending these tax rates are very marginal, very minimal compared to the cost of extending the tax breaks for our wealthiest. it's consistent with how i voted last saturday. last saturday i voted to extend the tax rates for those under $1 million. i thought that was the right way. a good compromise. unfortunately, the bill we have before us extends the tax rates for all taxpayers. the second provision that i strongly object to being in this package is the estate tax relief. the estate tax relief would provide for the next two years families with $10 million of an estate or lower to be totally exempt from the federal estate tax and would reduce the rate to 35%.
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now, this affect affects affecto benefit from that are the upper .25% of the families in this nation. i don't think in these tough economic times that's going to have much stimulative effect on job growth in america and the revenues we lose could have been used in a better way, i believe, for deficit reduction, which would have been i think a stronger effect -- positive effect on our economy. i thought we had a reasonable compromise on this issue. i thought we had a reasonable compromise to go back to the 2009 rates. in 2009, as you remember, we had gotten up to $3.5 million per person, with $7 million per family and a 45% tax raivment i thought that was a good compromise and i'm disappointed we didn't come back to that compromise. i think we did that, there would have been a much stronger consensus. not only in this body but in the house for this package.
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so, there's a good part of this package which i sport. there's one other good provision i want to point owvment in regards to the two last provisions and others that i spelt out, it provides relief for the next three years. it will expire tend of 2012. i think that's a good provision because that means that we're going to need to deal with the budget deficit. as i said earlier, once our economy starts gitting back on track, once we get these unemployment rates down to a reasonable level, then we have a much better chance of dealing with the budget deficit. we've got to start dealing with the budget deficit this yeemplet i acknowledge that. but our real effort is going to be when we have a growing economy it will really help us get our budget back into balance. and just 11 years ago -- let me remind my colleagues -- just 11 years ago the congressional budget office projected surpluses that could have retired our nation's marketable debt between 2007 and
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2009. in other words, if we would have used that surplus wisely, we wouldn't be looking at a $14 trillion national debt. but instead, the congress passed the so-called bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. i voted against those tax cussments i didn't believe we could -- tax cuts. i didn't believe we could afford the type of revenue loss, and, in fact, that's been the largest contributing factor to the deficit we have today, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. now, remember, in those days, we had a growing economy so it was no -- there was no need to stimulate the economy. today we're in a different position, allowing increased rates for middle-income families in these economic times would be the wrong thing to do. but i do think we have to get back to dealing with the deficit. we need to have a credible plan, a credible strategy. and that strategy should include shared sacrifices. we need to deal with spending. we've got to get not only domestic but military spending under control. and, yes, we need revenues.
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and i would hope we would start with allowing the termination of the extension of the high-income tax brackets for the millionaires as we start to take a look at ways that we can balance the budget as we move towards the next three or four or five years when we get our five-year budgets. first thing we should do is make it clear that we're not going to extend the higher-income tax rates. one more hav very positive aspeo this package that i want to bring up. this is one of the first -- this is the major bill dealing with a serious problem in our nation and we've got democrats and republicans working together. i can tell you that when i talk to my constituents in maryland, they tell me that this institution is too partisan. they like a lot of the things that we've done but they don't like the fact that we can't get democrats and republicans allowing the system to work, with the give and take that should take place in this most
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deliberative body. well, we've done it on this issue. we may not like everything that's in it because when you do compromise, there are going to be things in it that you don't always agree with. but the system has worked. it includes a lot of what i like, a lot of what my republican colleagues like. and together we've produced a bill that's going to help our economy. and i would hope that this would be a model of things to come. i hope it is an indication that we will be able to work together across party line to deal with the major challenges of our nation. we need to put our national business first over partisan agendas. so on balance, mr. president, i'm going to support this package. i'm going to support this package because i think it's critically necessary for our economy. i think it provides the type of help for middle-income families that they need today. and i think it represents the way that our political system should operate with the type of compromises that allow us to get to a conclusion dealing with
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major issues in our country. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. lautenberg: thank you, mr. president. we are obviously struggling here to find something that puts us in balance, a balance that will create more jobs, more opportunity, expand family
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incomes, middle-class people, and we don't seem to be getting there, mr. president. we're engaged in the wrong kind of dialogue, in my judgment. yesterday i voted to oppose the tax cut extenders bill that came along after a lon long and hard thought about the consequences of my decision. for me, voting decisions cannot be made without reflecting on my life's experiences to guide me, things that i saw as a child of a poverty-stricken family. not because my father wasn't willing to work but at times
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during those years, work was just unavailable. and it was hard going for a lot of years, and what -- what i remember is how hard my parents struggled to try and do what could be done for my sister and myself. that was our entire family. my father worked in mills that were common in the city of patterson, new jersey, textile mills, and there was something in the environment there that was very harmful. my father was 43 when he died. my mother was a 37-year-old widow and i had already joined the army. i had enlisted in the army. so we saw -- i saw what
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happened. my father was sick for 13 months from cancer. and, by the way, his brother died from cancer, worked in the mills, and their father worked in the factory. he died at age 56 from cancer. and when my father died 13 months after being stricken with colon cancer, what he left besides grief, unfortunately, my mother, being the sole income earner for the family, owed money for doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, you name it. and the -- overwhelmed by debt, it was necessary to go bankrupt.
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painful experience. it's a -- it's an influence, it's a memory that is very hard to deal with because it creates an atmosphere of failure. but life turned around for me and i am one of the most fortunate people on earth. my wife and i have 13 grandchildren, the oldest of whom is 17 and the youngest was born two weeks ago. and our hopes are totally enveloped by what kind of a country will our grandchildren will live in. will it continue to be a free democratic society, where people still believe that their
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children can get a good job, get a good education, have a family, and maintain a good home and have health care as required? or will they have the opportunities that further lead to admiration of the country and declaration of guilty to this great nation of ours? i was able, after service in world war ii, to -- with the g.i. bill to graduate -- go and graduate from columbia university. i then joined two friends in a start-up company called a.d.p. that now employs over 40,000 people in 23 countries, still headquartered in new jersey, where we began, and bringing an opportunity for companies who needed computer service to obtain it from us. we were pioneers in the field.
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and i was the c.e.o. and chairman of this great company and the salary for a job like that, as you can imagine, was at a very high level. and it's with this life experience that i view my current tax obligations, or let me call them contributions to country, because that's what it is. weighing them against the value of a strong nation that's able to supply unemployment for all. and i remind ourselves that we are in a wartime economy, and i don't want to go back to ancient history, but during world war ii, there was a tax required. it was called the excess profits
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tax, and it was there to help a country manage its finances because of the additional costs of war. and now we are in a wartime economy. every day our people face harm and perhaps death serving in afghanistan and iraq, and just the couple days ago, six people were killed. the death toll goes on, the injuries go up. over 5,000 people killed in the two wars and in excess of 30,000 wounded. so we need to have the energy pumped into our country that gives us the ability to take care of that and our general --
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the war obligation and the general functioning of our economy. and i looked at the value of a country that is able to function without the kind of indebtedness that's consuming america with other countries that are buying our bonds and financial instruments and questioning our nation's ability to redeem our obligations. where does all of that take us? we've got to invest to grow our economy and create jobs, putting people back to work and laying a foundation for a new era of prosperity for everybody. windfalls for the wealthiest of us does not benefit our economy or create jobs and are what got us into this fiscal mess to begin with. and that's why i oppose this bill. yeah, there are some things in the bill that are attractive,
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but when i think of a headline that i saw in the "wall street journal" a week ago monday, yesterday, that it said, "tax breaks for the wealthy go on" -- and not this precise language, was aboubut it was the byline, d unemployment benefits will continue. imagine that contrast, that tax breaks for the wealthy and also let them eat case, le them eat e people who don't -- let them, we'll give them unemployment insurance as a little bit of an unscene active to make sure that we get the votes to take care of the wealthiest and most fortunate in terms of assets in our society. we -- it -- this bill wastes money on tax breaks for those not needing them, giving the
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average millionaire a tax cut of more than $100,000 per year. contrast that with a per-family income across the country in the neighborhood of $50,000 and here an individual gets a $100,000 tax reduction, a tax break. this was money that could be used to pay down the deficit, create more jobs for the middle class -- for middle-class families. so why does this bill dedicate so much of its costs toward helping those known economists agree will not use that hone to boost the economy? president obama gave us the answer this week. he said that for republicans, including deep tax cuts for the most fortunate is there -- is there -- is their quote holy
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grail. that's what president obama said. that's what republicans are looking for most energetically. deep tax cuts for their hole which are grail, the wealthiest. on the other side of the aisle, it's not working families they're concerned with, ttion not the unemployed -- it's not the unemployed, it's not small strugging businesses. on the other side of the aisle they're concerned about the top 1% of or wage earners. when president bush cut taxes on those with the highest incomes, the -- the benefits -- did the benefits trickle down like the republicans promised? no. what resulted was a gigantic increase in our debt, well over $2 trillion in eight years. and i was the ranking member on the budget committee in those years and when we looked at salary cuts, we were told that it would not interfere with --
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with our needs, rather that it was a -- a way to get money to trickle down to the more modest income earners. and at the -- salaries rose as much as 400 times. there's a ratio between the top person in a company and the bottom person in the company. and years ago it ran about 40 times that at its largest. but in the recent years it ran as 400 times for the c.e.o.'s pay as large as the average worker was paid. so 400 times, if the bottom wage earner was $40,000, the guy at the top got $16 million. so it -- the disparity is something that we have to look at. people need to be able to afford the things that sustain life and here we are looking at people
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earning over $1 million a year. some, as we saw in -- recently in "the new york times," there was an article that showed eight wage earners who earned ove over $1 billion in a single year. one of them was $3.5 billion. and we saw in the paper these last couple of days that the family that has a primary stock ownership in -- in -- in wal-mart has a net worth of about $83 billion. and they, too, would get a tax break. is that necessary? at this time middle-class families face surging gas prices, skyrocketed, middle-class families face skyrocketing health care costs
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and soaring tuition. and now we're being asked to continue on the path to continue in the hole we're presently in. as i look at where we are as a country and review my responsibilities to those in new jersey who -- who i represent and what i want for those who will follow on for my grandchildren, whom i love more deeply than anything else in life, i ask what can i do that will improve their lives when i'm no longer here? and i conclude that a stronger democratic america will be the most valuable asset to leave behind. more valuable than more money than more possessions than any of those things, a stronger country. knowing that they're getting their share of -- of opportunity in this country of greatness, of wealth underneath all of our problems and i say -- what i
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want to say to my grandchildren, the older is alexander, the youngest carries the name of hudson. what do i want for them? i want them to be able to be safe, to be able to have health care when needed, i want them to be able to get an education, i want them to know that their country appreciates what they do. you can't build a building from the chimney on down. and you can't build a society from the wealthiest on down if you don't have a good foundation it all crumbles in front of you. and we're seeing worrisome signs about where america is going with some $15 -- some 15 million people unemployed at this time, what kind of a picture is that for people? and those who can't afford the necessities of life and who want unemployment insurance have to be in line to get some help by giving the wealthiest more tax
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breaks, that's not the kind of society america really wants or really is where we're giving to the wealthiest and forgetting the neediest. so i want to say that the vote for me was not easy. that there were some attractive parts in there, but the attractive parts, mr. president, were in there to try and get the bailout going, to try and get the tax breaks larger, to make sure that they took care of the friends who are there with the money whenever called upon. it's a bad idea. that's not a democratic society, mr. president. so i'm going to vote the same way tomorrow as i did yesterday, and that is against this -- this bill. this is a bill that is, in my view, will not make america stronger despite the fact that there's an economist here to
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proffering some -- proffererring some optimistic research on where we'll be. the wealthiest will not spend the money to encourage the economy's growth. that those who get unemployment insurance will have to spend it on things to live with. those who get more modest tax breaks will be able to -- will spend it to get the things that they need for their family. and so i'm going to try to make the reality for our country as good as it can be for everybody's grandchildren across this great nation of ours. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from michigan's recognized. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to talk about the bill particularly in front of us a provision that i would like very much to see in this legislation and when we have a republican colleague on the floor tonight or tomorrow, i intend to -- intending to offer unanimous consent, the underlying bill has been a dilemma for many, many of us, certainly the vast majority of us on this side of the aisle given where we are with the deficits, given our concern with the strategy top-end tax cuts that have not created jobs over time and deep concern about that. i also know that people in my state are desperately hurting and that the unemployment benefit extension is absolutely critical for families who are faced with decisions about whether they'll even be able to have a christmas? will they have a house? will they be living in a car?
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will they be able to put food on the table let alone get gifts for their children? very, very serious issues for families in michigan. and there are very important tax cuts for middle-class families, for small businesses, and strategic investments in jobs in this legislation in terms of tax provisions that create jobs. the bill before us includes an important financing mechanism called the treasury grant program or we've dubbed it 1603, financing for renewable energy. and this is one of the provisions that is very important that's in the bill. it's incredibly important if we're going to expand our economy that we focus on the growing clean energy economy, the clean energy industry. that's a place, i believe, where we have an opportunity to create middle class jobs, to create new opportunities and really create a boon in our economy. when developers want to develop
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wind farms or solar, they can get financing through this program or financing that's hard to get when you're doing something on the front end when you're commercializing new technology or doing something new, it'sular to get finance -- it's hard to get financing. when we build the wind farms in america, when we build the solar units, i want to make sure that they are using wind turbines, that they're using all the parts, the 8,000 parts that are in one of those big wind turbines, i want to make sure those are made in america, mr. president. i mean, that's how we truly grow our economy. not just creating new options on energy, but building the technologies here. doing the r&d, doing the innovation, absolutely critical. we're the best. we create the innovation. but we also are the best at making things and we need to be making it here. and i'm -- i have to say very,
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very proud to represent a state, the great state of michigan, where we know how to build things. we have great engineers. we have the best skilled workers in the world. we know how to make things much we're beginning now to move more into clean energy technology, certainly electric vehicles, hybrids, but also wind, solar, geothermal, other areas that involve manufacturing, and we're very proud of that. when we build the wind and solar provisions, the cutting-edge solar cells, we need to make sure that, in fact, they're made in america. and we're doing that right now in michigan. my concern is that this bill does not extend the manufacturing tax credit that is absolutely critical to keeping those jobs here at home in america. the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit, which we have dubbed 48-c is helping
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to create at least 17,000 jobs at 183 manufacturing facilities all across the country in 43 different states right now. it has been a huge success and i want to thank senator bingaman. i was proud to join with him in the finance committee in being able to author that provision that was in the recovery act initially. i want to thank senator brown of ohio for his efforts and leadership and passion on this issue as well. for the investment o of $2.3 billion that we put into the recovery act, the 48-c manufacturing tax credit, has leveraged $7.7 billion in private investment and clean energy manufacturing in america. that provision should be in this bill. we have strong bipartisan support, have it had now since
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it was first instituted. that provision should be in this bill. last year china investe invested $35 billion in clean energy technology. they're expected to ramp that up to $90 billion a year going forward. that's $246 million every single day. by comparison extending the 48-c, the manufacturing tax credit for a small sum will leverage private sector investments and more than pay for itself and create jobs making that new clean energy -- those products that are manufactured here in america. in my home state in michigan woo have 12 companies who have taken advantage of this manufacturing incentive building wind turbines, solar cells, advanced batteries for electric vehicles.
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jobs, mr. president, in michigan. wacker silicon is pro causing silicon used in solar panels. richardson panels is using the their $51 million advanced manufacturing tax credit to reequip their facility and create semiconductors creme received a tax credit for the production of l.e.d. light chips and fixtures creating jobs. z.f. steering of florence, kentucky, received $28 million and the manufacturing tax credit for the production of wind turbine component parts. and, frankly, the list, mr. president, goes on and on and on. 43 states, republican, democrat
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have businesses today that are hiring people that are make things in their states, making things in america because of the partnership put in place with the advanced manufacturing tax credit. so in addition to developing the renewable energy area of 1603, extending that so that we are helping to create the investment in these new technologies, we also need to extend the manufacturing tax credit for companies who are making renewable energy technologies here. the whole point is to make them here. not to bring in the component parts from china or someplace else but to make them here. we can do that. we're already beginning to do that. we can't trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign technology. and in some areas we're close to
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doing that. the recovery act was about changing that playing field and i want to thank president obama and the administration for understanding about manufacturing, about making things in america, building things in america, and what we need to do to actually create good-paying middle class jobs again in america. this bill does part of that with the renewable energy grants and the financing. but it does not focus on where things are made, which is of great concern to me. and so, mr. president, when i have the opportunity, i fully dame to the floor tonight -- i fully came to the floor tonight intending to ask unanimous consent to we proceed to my amendment, to be able to add this critical job-creating manufacturing credit that has bipartisan support, has had since it was first initiated.
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but i don't see any republican colleagues on the floor this evening, and so i understand under legislative courtesy that i will not do that. so i will proceed, and i will offer that tomorrow. mr. president, there's another provision i want to also speak about, an amendment of mine to the bill that i will offer unanimous consent on tomorrow that relates to small business. you know, when we look at how we grow our economy, we need to make things and, by the way, a lost those manufacturers are small businesses. when we think about the automobile industry, which i'm so proud of and what they're doing in coming back, the majority of jobs in michigan and across the country are actually are suppliers, small- and medium--sized sploimplets we know a lost folks who lost their jobs, are turning to the
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possibility of starting their own business. in the garage, in the extra bedroom, in the basement. but they're taking a great idea and trying to put it to work. so small businesses are incredibly important to us. and, mr. president, we worked very hard, as you know -- you've been a strong supporter of helping our small business owners and we have certainly focused on that in the last two years. we have passed in fact in the last two years 16 different tax cuts for small businesses to help them grow and create jobs. fortunately, over -- unfortunately, over constant filibusters on the other side, constantly having objections and filibusters on the other side. but we did pass them. we know that these companies are the backbone of our economy, and it's our commitment -- it's my commitment -- to keep fighting for them every single day. so that they can do well and they can hire people, and we can have more opportunity for people to work. unfortunately, there's a new
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reporting requirement from the i.r.s. that's hanging over the heads of small business owners relating to the filing of 109 tax forms. it would require business owners to file paperwork with the i.r.s. every time they purchase a product worth more than $600. in practice, that means that business owners will be forced to file mounds of paperwork for even the most mundane purchases. for example, if you are a real estate agent and go you to best buy for a new la laptop or any place where you are buying a new laptop, you would have to file a 1099 for buying the laptop. or if you are a farmer and buy $700 worth of seeds, there is a form to file with the i.r.s. or if you are a photographer and you need to travel for a few days to cover an event, a few nights in a hotel could be another i.r.s. form to fill out when you get home. so we need and want to fix this
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-- so we understand and we want to fix this we want to address this for small business owners. it is critically important that we do that. small business owners in my state of michigan want to be doing what it is that they do, not filling out extra forms. realtors want to be showing houses and farmers want to be growing things, and photographers want to be taking pictures. they don't want to be filling out endless forms and paper welcom--and paperwork for the i. we've had a number of votes on the floor. they've always got isen overwhelming bipartisan majorities to fix this. democrats and republicans have both agreed that we can't force american small businesses to funnel reams of paperwork with the impletes so i was very, very surprised when there have been objections to placing this as part of this bill, that this bill -- this tax bill in front of success the perfect place to be able to address this issue once and for all. and i understand there were objections on the other side of
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the aisle to doing that. which i find very surprising, because we continue to see amendment after amendment to take out this provision, which i've supported, but when we try to fix it now, we are seeing objections. and so i intend also tomorrow, mr. president, to offer an amendment that would eliminate this problem for small businesses once and for all. it's an amendment that i have filed to this bill. it's something that, based on overwhelming votes that we have had, overwhelm being bipartisan votes that we should be able to deal with very quickly. in fact, just a simple unanimous consent ought to be able do it. if there is to objection -- i don't think there's any objection on other side of the aisle, and i'm sorry if there is an objection on the republican side of the ierl to addressing this. there should not be, because now is the time to do that. this bill is the right place to do t we're coming to the end of the year.
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this provision is something that will be very onerous when it takes effect on smashings and we need to fix it. we need to actually eliminate that provision. and so, mr. president, when i have the opportunity, when we have republican colleagues joining us on the floor tomorrow, i will in fact offer a motion to move to my amendment and to get rid of this 1099 provision once and for all. and i would just say in conclusion that, for me, mr. president, as you know, everything is about jobs. my great state has lost more jobs -- our people have lost more jobs than any other state, over 800,000 in the last ten years. our people have been hit harder, longerrer, deeper than any place else in the country. we work hard. we're proud people. our people want to work. they know how to work. and they are doing everything possible to get back to work, to
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start their own business or to get back to work in some other fashion. i'm proud of what we're seeing happening with the support of the president and this congress, the ability for the auto industry in america to come back. the first time all three of our american companies will have a profit this year, first time i believe since 1999. hiring people back. we begin to see things turn around. but we've got a long way to go because of so many jobs that we've lost and so many people that have gone through so much as a result of that. so, these provisions to take the paperwork off of small businesses, to invest in american-made products through manufacturing are two provisions that will help us create jobs in america. and if that's not our number-one priority, it sure ought to be. and that's something that i'm
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going to continue to push every day. thank you, mr. president. ms. stabenow: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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frank mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota is recognized. mr. franken: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: mr. president, i
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rise today to speak about my decision, after a lot of serious contemplation, to support the legislation before us. i believe that minnesotans deserve a better deal than this one. but, unfortunately, this is the one we have. for minnesota's middle class, there is a lot in this bill that will not only be helpful but is absolutely critical. it stops our taxes from going up on january 1, it provides a payroll tax holiday that gives families making $50,000 a year a $1,000 tax break. and for minnesotans who are truly suffering right now, men, women, and children on the edge of economic disaster, it reinstates emergency federal unemployment benefits that expired at the end of last mon
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month. not restoring these benefits would be devastating to minnesota families and to our economy, leading to a lot more pain for working families, a lot more homeless kids spending christmas in a shelter or a car. i came here to make people's lives better, and so i'm -- i must vote to pass this legislation, but this was perhaps the hardest vote i have ever taken so far as a senator anded a like to tell you why. -- and i'd like to tell you why. we've spent the better part of a year talking about the ballooning deficit. republicans and democrats agree in every decision we make, every penney we spend, we need to keep in mind that it will be added to our national debt.
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at the same time we need to be mindful of our fragile economic recovery. are we spending in the most efficient, responsible way possible to get people back to work and get our economy back on track? i was hoping to see a tax package that would reflect these priorities. mindful of the debt, helpful to our economic recovery, fair -- fair -- to the american people. but, instead, this legislation spends billions of dollars on the wealthiest 2% of americans. these are americans who have prospered in recent years, according to the economic policy institute, during the past 20 years, 56% of all income growth has gone to the top 1% of households. even more unbelievably, a third
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of all income growth went to just the top .1%. and at the same time middle-class families have done decidedly worse. when you adjust for inflation, the median household income declined over the last decade. during those years, while the rich were getting rich,the rest of working america was struggling to keep up. we've been growing apart. we've been growing apart in our nation. we should be tackling this kind of inequality not exacerbating it. and that's what i find so frustrating about this legislation, it keeps our country on the same path of widening inequality. we're securing tax c


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