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tv   [untitled]    March 12, 2015 3:30pm-4:01pm EDT

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in the country and human trafficking is a big problem in my state just as it is throughout the rest of the country. since the human trafficking bill was placed on the calendar, i have been working closely with all of my colleagues, not only on this bill but on an amendment that i plan on introducing with many others, the mann act cooperation amendment. this is an amendment that would be a rare thing in washington today, a truly win-win amendment for the federal government, state governments and most importantly, victims of human trafficking. now, human trafficking is a problem that unfortunately comes in many forms and in many states all states. in fact, in all corners of our nation. and in order to best combat human trafficking we must work towards a seamless federal and state partnership in order to stop this growing problem.
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to that end i've been proud to have worked with many senators on both sides of the aisle senators heitkamp, gillibrand, ayotte murkowski on a simple yet straightforward amendment which incentivizes state and federal cooperation on this important issue. the mann act cooperation amendment will free up federal resources by allowing state attorneys general and local d.a.'s to prosecute human trafficking cases that would otherwise be a sign to federal government prosecutors or if federal government prosecutors do not have the resources to take on such cases oftentimes they're not going to be pursued. at the same time this amendment preserves the federal prosecutor's ability to exercise prosecutorial options while importantly increasing
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transparency about decisions made on human trafficking cases. mr. president, in human trafficking cases it's often local investigators and local prosecutors who have the most information on these cases. as alaska's attorney general i saw this firsthand. we usually had great cooperation with our partners in the federal government. but when the feds can't take on human trafficking cases due to limited resources, they should be encouraged to allow state officials to take on such cases. and that's the key goal of this amendment. to enable the resources and cooperation between state and federal prosecutors to ensure that all cases all cases of human trafficking are pursued and victims have justice and
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perpetrators pay penalties. and that's what this amendment will do. and that's why i believe it's such a win-win approach to state and federal prosecutions. this amendment provides transparency by ensuring there must also be communication between the states and federal government when making human trafficking prosecution decisions. however, mr. president the broader human trafficking bill that so many members of this body have been working on, so many on both sides of the aisle if that bill dies here on the senate floor so will the numerous amendments that will also advance justice for the victims of human trafficking including the mann act cooperation amendment. this is just one of many amendments on this important topic.
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we should not -- we should not allow this to happen. we need to get to work for the victims of human trafficking who are looking for the senate's leadership to help out to help stamp out the scourge of human trafficking which is affecting our country in so many different areas. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my remarks be placed at an appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president i rise to speak again on the impending exhausting of reserves from the disability insurance trust fund. the disability insurance or d.i. is an important program administered by the social security administration or s.s.a. the impending expawft shun of the -- exhaustion of the d.i.
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trust fund threatens to have great effect by 2016. rhyme committed -- i'm committed to working to ensure those cuts do not occur. unfortunately the administration and s.s.a. have yet to show they are committed to addressing this problem. as the chairman of the senate finance committee i will continue speaking on the floor about the imminent challenge we face with the d.i. trust fund and about solutions i will continue to reach out to shareholders and anyone who is interested in bipartisan discussions aimed at achieving solutions. ini will be acting to at least begin to chip away enacting challenges facing the d.i. program that i've been warning people about for years. that it's going to go broke unless we do something to improve it. i do -- i do believe that we should act to at least begin to
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chip away at the financial challenges that the d.i. program is facing while examining ways that we can help improve and modernize the social security system itself. i once again call on my friends on the other side of the aisle and the administration to join me in this effort. mr. president, i want to take a moment to note that some recent proposals to reform social security that have been put forward by some of my friends on the other side of the aisle are simply put irresponsible. we have seen proposals recently to raise taxes in the social security program usually to increase net progressivity in an already progressive structure and spend most of the revenue without adequately addressing the fact that even under their proposals we have gaping long-run holes in social security's finances. raising taxes and increasing some benefits while still leaving an unsustainable financial structure in place
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would be fundamentally unfair to younger generations of workers who will have to eventually pay even more taxes suffer from benefit cuts or more likely both. the so-called progressive reform plans that tax more and promise more benefits, even though the promises are unsustainable are surely poll tested with demographic groups who probably do not scoff at promises of more benefits and higher taxes on the so-called rich. and those plans may help in fund-raising for numerous groups who try to benefit from the politics of fear surrounding the social security system. but those plans do nothing for younger generations of workers aside from sending them a clear message that they are on their own. again, mr. president, this is irresponsible. more generally some believe that we can solve all or most of the financial challenges facing the d.i. program and social security in general through
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higher taxes. to investigate whether that is the case, i made several requests to the congressional budget office regarding this strategy. and recent analysis performed in response to those requests shows how difficult this approach can be. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that c.b.o.'s analysis be entered into the record at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: most proposals to the reform of social security by raising payroll taxes would result in massive tax increases particularly on the middle class, on middle-class americans which would negatively impact job growth and harm middle-class families. that is hardly what our economy needs. for example, according to c.b.o., if you wanted to generate long-term balance between inflows and outflows for the d.i. program using a d.i. payroll tax increase alone, you would have to increase the tax
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rate by 39% which would hit low middle-and upper income earners alike. if you wanted to generate long-term balance for social security including d.i. in retirement try to do it by eliminate the maximums on subject earnings on payroll taxes according to c.b.o. a worker earning $200,000 would pay about 68% more and a worker earning about $260,000 a year would pay 109% more. it may be by raising taxes 26% to more than 100% of those earners are something my friends on the other side of the aisle are comfortable under the notion of taxing the so-called rich. i would note of course that while a family headed by someone earning $150,000 a year may believe comfortable in many
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areas of the country it appears that the ever-changing definition of rich is descending lower and lower into the middle class, as my friends on the other side lectured more and more in recent years about inequality. even if you were to eliminate the taxable maximum entire and still provide corresponding benefits to upper earners in in accordance with current law only l 45% of social security's long run financial challenges would be addressed. you would still need to hike taxes more, cut benefits or both to fully address the program's long-term fiscal problems. and because upper earners will pay more taxes but receive corresponding benefits since social security was designed to have such a correspondence, the policy of increasing the taxable maximum ends up giving higher replacement rates to upper earners. that mr. president hardly seems to be a workable solution,
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since it doesn't solve the financial problem and it doesn't solve the inequality problem that is so bothersome to my friends on the other side. perhaps for the sake of argument we should consider eliminating the taxable minimum thereby raising taxes substantially on upper earners and not give benefits for increased tax payments. of course such a policy is bothersome to some of my friends on the other side of the aisle since it breaks the connection in social security between what people put in and what they get out. some would say that this would convert social security into another welfare program focused on redistribution and away from the program focused more on self-financed retirement security and protection against income losses from disability. so instead maybe we should consider eliminating the taxable maximum and give some small
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benefit return in exchange. well, in such a case, according to c.b.o., you would still not be able to solve the financial challenges facing social security and using scheduled benefits replacement rates -- quote -- "would increase noticeably only for people in the highest quintile of lifetime household earnings." i don't think that result would be desirable to the tax the rich coalition. mr. president, let me continue by noting some recent remarks on the senate floor from the junior senator from vermont and the ranking member of the budget committee who promises to put forward what he suggests is a courageous way to confront social security's financial challenges. of course he has not put forward any legislation or plan in this congress so if we want to talk specifics, we have to look at his previous plan which he released in the 113th congress. under that plan, the current taxable maximum is preserved as
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our current payroll tax rates. the new twist is that his plan imposes current payroll tax rates on earnings above $250,000 a year which evidently is where the distinction between the so-called rich and everyone else lies, in their opinion. and that $250,000 threshold is not -- let me repeat -- is not indexed to inflation. earnings subject to the tax above $250,000 a year would not be included in earnings used to compute benefits, which is to say under this plan, a worker would pay social security taxes on earnings above $250,000 a year with no corresponding increase in social security benefits. again, this would move the system away from a self-financed insurance program toward what some would call welfare and redistribution. and since the new $250,000 threshold is not indexed
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eventually more and more earnings will become subject to increased social security taxes without getting anything in terms of benefits and return. in around 20 years middle-class earners who today have just surpassed the taxable maximum will be pushed into the earnings category where they lose a connection between social security taxes and corresponding benefits. at that time an indexed income equivalent of what is around $120,000 a year today will be deemed to be rich with earnings above that amount worthy of being taxed more for social security. but not worthy of receiving any additional social security benefits. so mr. president what does the senator's scheme that once again was put forward in the last congress accomplish? admittedly it does extend the solvency of social security by around 28 years or so, but it still does not make the system financially sustainable in the long run leaving a financial
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shortfall and attendant need for yet more taxes or benefit cuts and leaving it to younger generations of workers to figure it out. more than likely it will in many respects sever the connection between what people pay in to social security and what they can expect to get out of this program in terms of benefits. once again this represents a fundamental shift in social security policy. one that some may support but few are now willing to openly defend. mr. president, i look forward to debating discussing, an voting on any plan that any of my friends on the other side of the aisle put forward to tackle social security's financial challenges including any new plan that the junior senator from vermont wants to put forward, particularly if it resumables the plan he -- resemble the plan he introduced last congress. i would be anxious to see how many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to
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go on record in support of yet more tax increases and a fundamental shift in the nature of the social security program. in the meantime, we still have the pending depletion of reserves in the d.i. trust fund, which is something that we will have to address before the end of calendar year 2016. from my perspective the sooner we tackle this challenge the better. but it is hard to act when we have an administration at -- that refuses to engage in discussion and seems to want to make this a partisan issue by putting forward a plan to reallocate payroll taxes from one trust fund to another without any further discussion or debate. what i continue to hear from the administration and many of its allies in congress are stale talking points, many of which are wrong or distorted and a take-it-or-leave it approach to deliberateing over the reallocation scheme devised
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unilaterally by this administration. the only thipg that this administration appears -- the only thing that this administration appears willing to discuss when it comes to social security is its own kick-the-can strategy coupled with additional administrative funds for the s.s.a., either funding with yet more federal debt or by crowding out spending on other discretionary programs. meanwhile, i am comforted by many in the disability advocacy community who are at least willing to have conversations about how we can work to improve social security's programs while also paying attention to its financial challenges. there are cephal groups currently hard at work analyzing -- there are several groups currently hard at work analyzing options and having discussion and debate about what we could look at for program exriewvments in physical -- improvements in fiscal responsibility. there is certainly more that we can do to improve the d.i. system and help make it work better for beneficiaries.
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there is certainly more that we can do to improve social security's retirement side, help make it work better for modern family situations. there is certainly more that we can do on the program integrity side including some of the president's proposals and more. there is certainly more that we can do to protect against frivolous decision making by administrative law judges in the d.i. program and there's plenty of that that's costing us arms and legs. and there is certainly more we could do reduce fraud in the d.i. program which literally robs resources from those truly in need. sadly, the obama administration's approach to d.i. and social security? in general has thus far been largely to remain silent, even in the face of the impending d.i. trust fund exhaustion. the only major structural change that the administration briefly considered was adoption of the
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chained c.p.i. in government-wide price indexation coupled with benefit enhancements for vulnerable populations. however, the president has since withdrawn even that modest proposal and has publicly stated that he would not even discuss the idea unless he was assured of getting yet another tax hike for the general fund to go along with it. mr. president, as i have said before, it is premature to kick the can down the road again by agreeing on some payroll tax reallocation between the two trust funds and social security as a temporary patch of convenience and the patch that was unilaterally constructed by this administration. yes, there have been reallocations among many trust funds in the past, under many varying circumstances and yes many of them have had bipartisan support. but we have known about this
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coming shortfall for roughly 20 years. in other words congress has had roughly 20 years to come up with solutions to help put the d.i. program and perhaps social security in general on path to long-term financial sustainability. and congress has failed. we are now being asked by the current administration to double-down on that failed approach, to do another reallocation, to push the problem further down the road, to hope that in the interim congress will not fail again. president obama and in other policy areas has argued that if decades show that a policy is not working, then -- quote -- "it's time for a new approach" -- unquote. sadly, that sentiment does not seem to apply when he is talking about social security. mr. president, as i've said before, it seems that we have two paths to choose from.
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one is the path that i prefer involving examination of discussion of what we can do to enhance the d.i. program and its finances and what we can agree upon. the other is to engage in divisive political rhetoric and demagogue the issue even further, which is irresponsible in my view, and not what disabled american workers and all workers insured by the d.i. program should tolerate tolerate. i repeat my previous call to anyone from either party who wishes to engage in a dialogue about thousand fix the d.i. program and social security in general. my door is open. in the meantime, i plan to take whatever steps i can as chairman of the committee of jurisdiction to help preserve these programs for beneficiaries in the near and long term. mr. president, we can't keep going down this way of always demanding more taxes a -- and
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more spending to solve problems we could have solved a long time ago. we're going to have to get serious about this, and i intend to see that we do. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:


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