tv Senate Session CSPAN March 23, 2015 12:00pm-5:31pm EDT
take up the 2016 republican budget resolution which was approved last week by the budget committee. senators expected to spend most of the week on the budget. live senate coverage right here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. sovereign god, your kingdom cannot be shaken, for you are king of kings and lord of lords. thank you for inviting us to ask
and receive, to seek and find, and to knock for doors to open. lord forgive us when we have forfeited your blessings because of our failure to ask. today, empower our senators to seek your wisdom and guidance. may they not depend only on their gifts and abilities, but remember that without your involvement they labor in vain. may they strive to be your ambassadors of renewal and reconciliation. steady their hands to grasp
freedom's torch and illuminate the darkness of our nation and world. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
the presiding officer: the chair recognizes the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president we begin this week by remembering a failed idea from the past. obamacare. and we'll end by passing balanced budget legislation about the future. five years ago today a partisan obamacare bill was signed into law over the objections of the american people. it was rushed through in defiance of the experts who warned it would result in higher costs, fewer choices and broken promises for the middle class and tragically that's just what we've seen. millions of americans lost health plans they were promised they could keep. premiums spiked, deductibles
skyrocketed, tax time became even more of a burden, often a costlier one as well. and for too many family doctors and trusted hospitals fell out of network. all you have to do is listen to letters like karen's from louisville to know that americans deserve better than what obamacare has given them. karen was paying $325 a month for her health insurance but now she says her premium has spiked to almost $550 a month with a deductible well in excess of $6,000. i can't afford this, karen wrote. but i do not have a choice. it scares me to think what will happen if i do get sick. that's karen's story and it's hardly unique. every member in this body should be striving for something
better -- something better -- than the pain of obamacare. and we can by passing a balanced budget that's about the future, we can leave obamacare's higher costs and broke promises where they belong: in the past, and start fresh with real health reform. that's just one of the many reasons for senators to support the balanced budget now before us. it's a budget that recognizes serious fiscal and economic challenges that are facing our country and works to address them in a commonsense way. americans know that washington can't tax away the challenges confronting us, and americans know washington can't ignore away the problems confronting us either. americans also know that every dollar spent on interest for the growing national debt is essentially wasted. every dollar spent on interest is one less dollar for social security or for helping those who truly need it or for tax
relief. that's why the balanced budget before us is premised on a simple truth that washington has a spending problem not a revenue problem. i know that this can be hard for some to acknowledge but politicians have a duty to the american people to simply admit it. they owe it to the american people to explain why the kind of budget blueprints we've seen from the white house are just so totally uncertificates. president obama's budget contain massive tax increases and never balance, ever. never balance ever. contrast that to the budget before the senate today. it balances. it does so without raising taxes. and it's the result of open and transparent committee work led by chairman mike enzi. this budget is another example of the new senate getting back to work for the american people.
it's another example of the new senate moving past failed ideas from the past, like obamacare and positioning america for the future instead. this balanced budget is all about growing an economy that can work better for the middle class of today and leaving a more prosperous future to the middle class of tomorrow. it will also provide the procedural tools via the budget reconciliation process to bring an end to the nightmare of obamacare. that's something all of us should want. so since our friends across the aisle have decided not to offer a budget of their own, i would invite them to join us, join us in supporting the growth-oriented balanced budget that's before us now. mr. president? the presiding officer: senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to s. con res. 11.
the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of s. con res. 11, setting forth the congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2016, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all in favor say aye. opposed? the ayes seem to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will now report the measure. the clerk: calendar number 31, s. concurrent resolution 11 setting forth the congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2016, and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate democratic leader. mr. reid: i snents that the time -- i ask consent that the time i use for my opening
statement not count against the time for the budget resolution. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president as the republican leader mentioned it's hard to believe that five years have gone by since we passed the affordable care act but it has. five years. we can all look back to that cold cold winter day when we were able to finally get it done but to me, it doesn't seem that long ago. the memories of what took place to get where we did to pass that are very fresh in my mind. it wasn't an easy feat. presidents going back to truman and eisenhower had tried to pass something dealing with health care, and they were all unable to do it. so it was really a great
accomplishment of congress to pass this. it wouldn't be a stretch to say that president obama risked his presidency by pushing for health care reform. it was really a defining moment for many, many people. republican opposition at the time was overwhelming. no matter what we as democrats did or tried to do, there was nothing we could do to get the republicans to join in giving health care to the american people even though, mr. president, the original health care bill that we passed was patterned after republican proposals. so we worked hard and we got it done. we pled for help; we got none. republicans simply were not interested in working with us to fix our nation's health care system. outside of the capitol a sophisticated and dishonest public relations campaign costing huge amounts of money was being waged against obamacare by political operatives lobbyists insurance
companies and many others. we pressed on and on, and we did the very best we could and it was pretty good. was it perfect? of course not. no legislation is. but what we eventually passed was and still is good for america. i was very surprised to hear my friend the senior senator from kentucky talk about a woman from kentucky. that's very unusual since 400,000 people in kentucky today have insurance because of obamacare that they didn't have before. five years later i'm very proud of the work that we did. i'm just as proud today as i was when president obama signed the affordable care act into law. obamacare is reducing costs expanding access and protecting individuals with preexisting disabilities. what are just a few of the things it's done, mr. president?
16.4 million americans now have quality health care coverage. 16.4 million. the u.s. has seen the largest decline in the uninsured rate probably ever. but we'll use just for purposes of illustration, in decades. in the last 18 months the uninsured rate for nonelderly adults has fallen by 35%. that's stunning. health care costs have grown at their lowest level in some 50 years. 50 years. now listen to this, mr. president. patient safety initiatives are keeping americans safe. since we passed this legislation, the number of preventable deaths at hospitals and care centers has dropped by 50,000 people. that's 50,000 people that are alive today that wouldn't have been had it not been for obamacare. that's just one aspect of people that are alive today because of obamacare that would not have been otherwise.
but for all the incredible national statistics that are available, the best evidence that affordable care act is working can be found in our homes, our neighborhoods and our communities. this year in nevada, obamacare is making a real difference in the lives of about 75,000 people who signed up for coverage in the health care insurance marketplace. and frankly nevada got off to really a slow start because they had a contract state with xerox and they did such an awful job. the republican governor of the state of nevada, i have applauded him in the past and i'll do it again, he was very courageous. he stepped forward and has made a huge difference in nevada. not only are nevadans getting covered, but they are getting tax breaks also. 65,000 nevadans who selected a plan on the marketplace qualified for an average tax credit of $240 per month. mr. president, no matter what standard you use that's real
money and the pockets of nevadans who are still recovering from the economic downturn because of what happened on wall street. there are stories just like this all across america. after five years it's clear as ever that the affordable care act is working. americans are benefiting from increased health coverage, lower costs and improved efficiency. again, mr. president 16.5 million americans now have quality health coverage. since 2013 the u.s. has seen the largest decline in decades. in the last 18 months the uninsured rate for nonelderly adults has fallen by 35%. health care costs have grown at their slowest rate in 50 years. patient safety initiatives are keeping americans safe. since 2011 the number of preventable deaths at hospitals and care centers has dropped by 50,000. the chair and ranking member of the budget committee is on the floor today. mr. president, one of the great things we don't talk about in the affordable care act is community health centers.
the good man from vermont the junior senator from vermont came to mean and talked to me about community health centers. as a result of his advocacy, we put lots of money about $11 billion in the affordable care act for community health centers. it's changed the health care delivery system in america significantly. we must continue that program. the affordable care act for all the reasons we have mentioned mr. president, is something that's really important. it is important that everyone understands how absolutely fantastic it was for the people of this country. after five years it's clear it's working americans are benefiting from increased coverage lower cost, improved efficiency. i invite my republican colleague to accept that obamacare is the law of the land, put aside the unrealistic notions of reputing a law that's 16.4 million people now have health care.
we're going to take, just drop them because the republican plans would basically just drop them all. instead, republicans join us and help even more americans get the help they need. perhaps five years from now democrats and republicans can look back with pride knowing that together we helped make a good lot even better for all americans. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i begin by asking for some unanimous consents. first i would ask unanimous consent that for the duration of the senate's consideration of s.
con. res. 11, the majority and democratic managers of the bill, while seated or standing at the manager's desk, be permitted to deliver full remarks retrieve, review and edit documents and send email and other data communications from texts displayed on wireless personal digital assistant devices and tablet devices. i further ask consent that the use of calculators be permitted on the floor during consideration of the budget resolution. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr.-ins: for the -- mr. enzi: for the information of senators, this does not alter the existing traditions that prohibit the uses of such devices in the chamber by senators in general officers and staff. mr. enzi: it also does not allow the use of videos or pictures, the transmitting of sound even through earpieces for any purposes, the use of telephones or other devices for voice communications any laptop computers, any detachable keyboards, the use of desktop computers or any other larger devices.
i further would ask unanimous consent that the initial debate time on the budget resolution be allocated as follows -- time until 1:00 p.m. equally divided between the managers or their designees, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. under the control of the majority. 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. under the control of the minority. 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. under the control of the majority. 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. under the control of the minority. 5:00 to 5:30 equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the time spent in quorum calls requested during the budget resolution be equally divided and come off the resolution. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that dan kowalski and greg dean from my staff and mike jones and josh smith from the democratic staff be given all-access floor passes for the senate floor during the consideration of budget resolution s. con. res. 11. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent that david ditch and
hannah oeh be granted privileges of the floor during consideration of s. con. res. 11 and votes that may occur in relation thereto. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: on behalf of senator sanders, i ask unanimous consent that claire mahoney and carrie rice o.m.b. detailees to the budget committee be granted floor privileges during the consideration of s. con. res. 11. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: mr. president last week the senate budget committee took an important first step in helping to change the way we do business here in washington by reporting out a balanced budget. this week, we take the next step as the senate begins debating how best to make the government live within its means and set spending limits for our nation. but we're running out of time, and unless we do something soon, our nation will be overspending nearly a trillion dollars a year. now, that's actually 1 trillion a year. a trillion makes it sound rather
trivial. it's a thousand billion dollars a year of overspending. now, hardworking taxpayers are paying attention. in fact, 24 states have already passed a constitutional balanced budget amendment and there are ten more that are working on it. if all of these states pass similar measures, we'll have 34 states needed for a constitutional convention on a balanced budget, and we'll be forced to act as they desire. in it -- if it isn't all of you they are saying it will be all of us. well, we are elected to represent our constituents. in the face of such demands we should act or someday it will be out of our hands. one of the best ways to balance our budget is to make our government more efficient effective and accountable. if congress does its job we can have some flexibility and eliminate what isn't working starting with the worst first. then we can eliminate waste and streamline what's left. but to do this first congress
must do something it hasn't done in the past eight years. that's scrutinize every dollar for which they have responsibility. actually, with the billions of dollars we spend every single year, they will be lucky to scrutinize every million dollars. if government programs are not delivering results they should be improved, and if they are not needed they should be eliminated. it's time to prioritize and demand results from our government programs. through the process of getting the budget together, i discovered that we had 260 programs that haven't been authorized. what's an authorization? well the committees are the people that are kind of experts or at least have a very concentrateed concern over that -- concentrated concern over that particular area, and they pass the new programs, the details of the new programs. the amount that can be spent on those programs, the way that we can measure whether they are getting things done. i discovered that 260 of those programs that we are still
funding have expired. their authorization ran out. one thing that's in those authorizations is some kind of a sunset date, and we passed the sunset date on 260 programs. so what? we're only overspending, according to the authorization $293 billion a year on expired programs. yes, some of those programs are absolutely essential. what we need to do, though, is have those committees that have the expertise go back and review them and reauthorize them and set the new limits and the new may tricks for what they are -- new matrix for what they're supposed to be doing so we can tell if they're doing their job. 260 programs. some of them the last time -- one of them expired in 1983. a whole bunch of them expired before this century. so we know this will be a challenge for every single member of congress, but i believe we're up to the task because the american people are
counting on us. this week, hardworking taxpayers will also get to see something they have not -- they have been waiting to see. that's an open and transparent legislative process that will see members from both sides of the aisle offering, debating and ultimately voting on amendments to this resolution. senate republicans will offer amendments that will enhance fiscal discipline, build a strong national defense boost our economic growth, tackle obamacare, protect education and help make our government more efficient, effective and accountable to hardworking taxpayers. what this budget does do will -- we will also hear people say what this budget does do and does not do, but here is what this budget does do. it balances the budget in ten years with no tax hikes. it protects our most vulnerable citizens. it strengthens the national defense. it improves economic growth and opportunity for hardworking families. it slows the rate of spending
growth. it preserves social security by reducing spending in other areas to fully offset social security's rising deficits and encourage our nation's leaders to begin a bipartisan, bicameral discussion on how to protect and save social security and avoid the across-the-board social security benefits that could occur under current law. it protects our seniors by safeguarding medicare from insolvency and extending the life of the medicare trust fund by five years. it ensures medicaid savings -- medicare savings in the president's health care law are dedicated to medicare instead of seeing those changes go to other programs and more overspending. it continues funding for children's health insurance program, chip, and it creates a new program based on chip to serve low-income working age able-bodied adults and children who are eligible for medicaid. it increases state flexibility in designing benefits and
administering medicaid programs to ensure efficiency and reduce wasteful spending and provide stable and predictable funding so long-term services and supports are sustainable, both for the federal government and for the states. so as we begin this debate this week it's worth noting that strong economic growth will provide a balanced budget, and that can provide and will serve as a foundation for helping all americans to grow and prosper. a balanced budget allows americans to spend more time working hard to grow their businesses or advance their jobs instead of worrying about taxes and inefficient and ineffective regulations. most importantly it means every american who wants to find a good-paying job and a fulfilling career has the opportunity to do just that. there are problems, however with the family budget. family income is not growing as it should, and this has dire consequences for our future.
if family income does not grow, it becomes very difficult for parents to pay their children's education and for their own training needs. likewise slow family income growth means less money set aside for retirement, health care a down payment on a house and money to get the next generation started. because job growth has been so slow since the beginning of the recovery it's not surprising that income growth has been slow too. a lot of people failed to note that when jobs and income slow down together, the real victims are your hopes your dreams and your aspirations. moreover these trends' slow growth in jobs and the incomes are relatively related and recent. hardly anyone listening to me today would be confused by the term family income. it clearly means the cash that families receive from their jobs and their investments. it's the stuff that goes into a savings account into a retirement plan, into education for the kids, into the household
rainy day fund. you can count it and it's tangible. now, one of the other things that i discovered as i was going through this process is that we have some things that we all trust funds and i've discovered that you better not trust them. there's no cash in the trust funds. normally that would be investments that can be withdrawn and the bills paid. so i think if we really were doing a financial statement for the federal government, we'd have to move those trust funds over to accounts payable because what's backing them is the full faith and credit of the federal government. and i hope that we can make it so that that is full faith and credit and that's why we need to change some of the things that we're doing right now. last year, we spent $231 billion on interest. that's on an $18 trillion debt. now, in the president's budget, that's proposed to go to
$780 billion. that's more than we're spending on defense more than we're spending on education more than we're spending on almost any other function that the federal government does. now, if $230 billion is 1%, what happens if we go to the normal rate of 5%? oh goodness. we only get to make choices here on $1,100,000,000,000, so virtually all of the money we have would go to interest. no national defense no education, no other function that the federal government is involved in. our overspending is killing us. yes, there are two ways that you can reduce overspending. one is to cut spending. the other one is to raise taxes. we're already collecting more money than we ever have in the history of the united states. so how are we going to solve
this problem of the interest itself from bankrupting us? this budget is designed to put us on a path to do that. it will not solve everything. we've only had about eight weeks to do what hasn't been done in a budget in six years. so i hope you'll bear with us during the course of this process. i am an accountant. i'm also the chair of the senate budget committee. and we have started the monumental task of confronting america's chronic overspending, tackling our nation's surging debt and balancing our nation's budget. incidentally under the president's budget, the overspending is -- this year is $468 billion. remember we get to make decisions on 1,100 billion dollars. if that constitution that i'm talking about that the puts are putting together, 24 into the ten makes it mandatory we'd
have to cut 50%. we're not able to do that. it was tough enough to balance the budget over a ten-year period. but that's a tremendous task we have ahead of us if we're going to take care of balancing our nation's debt and bringing it down to where it's a manageable level. where we can afford the interest on it. before coming to congress i ran a small business in wyoming for many years. i served as the mayor of my hometown. then i served as a ledge he legislator and in those roles one of the most important jobs i had wasser were to ensure my budgets were balanced every year. in time we were able to even build some rainy day accounts in wyoming. and so far there's never been a crisis so bad that it's rained. it's time to begin this responsible accounting in washington because while you can lie about the numbers the numbers never lie.
the worst-kept secret in america is this administration is spending more than ever and taxing more than ever. the president's budget increases taxes dramatically and still doesn't get us to a balanced budget. in fact, that $468 billion in overspending this year in the tenth year he projects a trillion dollars which is a thousand billion overspent. it never goes down. it keeps going up. we've got to reverse that trend. otherwise, -- well, i've already explained that dilemma. the federal government should spend your tax dollars wisely and responsibly and give you the freedom and control to pursue your future the way you choose. hardwork that's correct deserve a government that is more efficient and more accountable. that should be something both
parties can agree on. i never heard anybody say they wanted an inefficient and ineffective government. runaway spending be habits have created a dangerously growing debt because the habit of spending now and paying later is deeply engrained. actually under the president's budget it isn't even paying later that is included in it. i mentioned we've overspent nearly a trillion dollars a year. that's a thousand billion. and the more washington overspends the more debt we owe and the more added to what future generations will have to pay. today america's debt totals $18 trillion. in fact, every man woman and child now owes more than $56,000 on that debt. the number is expected to grow to more than $75,000 over the next decade unless we make important changes. yes, that's every man woman and child. that means somebody born this morning, they owe $56,000 on
that debt. every dollar spent on interest and our debt is another dollar we won't able to use for government services, for individuals in need or another dollar that won't be available to taxpayers for their own needs. it's time to stop talking and start acting. washington has to live within its means just like the hardworking families do every day. we have to deliver a more effective and accountable government to the american people that supports them when it must and gets out of the way when it should. we didn't get here oversight we won't be able to fix it oversight -- overnight but we can solve this crisis if we act now. republicans have put forward a responsible plan that balances the badge in ten years with no tax hikes. it strengthens our national defense and improves economic growth and opportunity for hardworking families. the balanced budget means real accountability in washington and ensures that programs actually accomplish what they set out to
deliver. which goes back to my thing about 260 programs that have expired that we're still funding to the tune of $293 billion. a balanced budget supports economic growth for hardworking families and creates real opportunity for all americans to grow and prosper. a balanced budget allows americans to spend more time working hard to grow their businesses or to advance their jobs instead of worrying about taxes and inefficient and ineffective regulations that drive their opportunity down. it means job creators can find opportunities to expand our economy and means every american who wants to have a good-paying job an a fulfilling career has the opportunity to do that. that's what a balanced budget means for our nation and it's what the american people deserve. congress is under new management and by working together to find shared ground on commonsense solution we can deliver real results and have real progress.
mr. president, i yield the floor and reserve the balance of my time. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you mr. president. let me just begin by commenting on a few of the thoughts raised by my good friend, senator enzi. senator enzi says that the economy today is not where it should be, and he's right. i don't think anybody thinks that the economy is where it should be in terms of low employment high wages. no debate about that. but i ask the american people to think back six and a half years ago at the end of president
bush's term to what the economy was like. at that point we were not gaining the 200,000 jobs a month that we're gaining now. we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. at that point the deficit was not at $480 billion where it is today, it was at $1.4 trillion. at that point the stock market was not soaring as it is today. the american and world's financial system was on the verge of collapse. so let's begin by putting issues into perspective. now, nobody i know thinks that we are where we should be economically in america today but anybody who does not understand despite enormous republican obstructionism that we have made significant gains over the last six and a half
years, would i believe be very mistaken. mr. president, as we all know, the federal budget that we are working on now is not an appropriation bills. it does not provide explicit funding for this agency or that agency. what it does do is lay the foundation for that process. the total amount of money that the appropriations committees have to spend. in other words this budget is more than just a very long list of numbers. the federal budget is about our national priorities and our values. it is about who we are as a nation and what we stand for. it is about how we analyze and assess the problems that we face and how we go forward in resolving those problems. that is the task that the senate now is about to undertake and
it is a very, very serious responsibility. mr. president, let us be very clear. no family, no business, no local or state government can responsibly write a budget without first understanding the problems and the challenges that it faces. and than is even more true when we deal with a federal budget of some $4 trillion. and as i examine the budgets brought forth by the republicans in the house and here in the senate this is how i see their analysis of the problems facing our country. at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, perhaps the most important issue facing this country, a huge transfer of
wealth from the middle class to the top .1% my republican colleagues apparently believe that the richest people in america need to be made even richer. it is apparently not good enough for my republican colleagues that 99% of all new income today is going to the top 1%. not good enough. it is apparently not good enough that the top .1% today own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. clearly, in the eyes of my republican colleagues, the wealthy and the powerful and the big campaign contributors -- indeed -- need even more help. not only should they not be asked to pay more in taxes not
only should we not eliminate huge loopholes that benefit the wealthy and large corporations, some of my republican friends believe that we should protect these loopholes not change them at all or maybe even make them wider. it's apparently not good enough that corporate america is enjoying record breaking profits and that the c.e.o.'s of large corporations earn some 290 times what their average employees make, 290 times more. apparently not good enough that since 1985, the top .1% has seen a more than an $8 trillion increase in its wealth than it would have if wealth inequality had remained the same as it was
in 1985. an $8 trillion increase in wealth going to the top .1%. but apparently my republican colleagues not only do not talk about this issue, they will do nothing to address the massive wealth and inequality that this country faces. it is apparently not good enough for my republican colleagues not to be dealt with that the wealthiest 14 people in this country -- 14 people -- have seen their wealth go up by more than $157 billion over the past two years alone. 14 people saw an increase in their wealth by $157 billion, and the republican budget talks about cutting food stamps and education and nutrition. because we are presumably a poor nation.
well we're not a poor nation. we just have massive wealth and income inequality so the vast majority of people are becoming poor but the people on top are doing phenomenonally well. that is a reality we must address. mr. president, as manifested in the house and senate budgets my colleagues are ignoring a very significant reality and that is that millions of middle-class and working families people who are often working longer hours for lower wages, people who have seen significant declines in their standard of living over the last 40 years but my republican colleagues say those people who are struggling, those people who are trying to feed their families those people who are trying to send their kids to college, those are not the people that we should be helping. rather we've got to worry about the top 1%.
madam president, at a time when over 45 million americans are living in poverty and that is more than almost any time in the modern -- modern history of our country and many of pease theme are working people, people are working 40 or 50 hours a week at substandard wages -- my republican colleagues think we should increase poverty by ending the affordable care act by slashing medicaid, by cutting food stamps, and the earned income tax credit. at a time when only -- when almost 20% of our kids live in poverty, the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world my republican colleagues think that maybe we should even raise that poverty rate a little bit among our children by cutting child care by cutting head start by cutting the refundable child tax credit, and maybe let's
even go after nutrition programs for hungry children. madam president, to summarize the rich get much richer, and the republicans think they need more help. the middle class and working families of this country become poorer and the republicans think we need to cut programs they desperately need. frankly, those may be the priorities of some of my republican colleagues, but i do not believe that these are the priorities of the american people. madam chairman, today the united states, shamefully, remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right. today, despite the modest gains of the affordable care act we still have about 40 million americans who lack health insurance and millions more who
are underinsured. and what is the republican response to the health care crisis? they want to abolish do away with completely, the affordable care act and take away the health insurance that 16 million americans have gained through that program. so here you have 40 million people who have no health insurance, and the republican response is, well, let's make it 56 million people. and if you add the massive cuts they propose to medicaid and the children's health insurance program, even millions more would lose their health insurance. does anybody for one second think that this vaguely makes any sense in the real world? people are struggling to try to find health insurance, and the response is, let's cut 56 million -- let's cut 16 million
off of the affordable care act and millions more off of medicaid. and while the senate budget resolution does not end medicare as we know it, unlike the house budget last year, it does make significant cuts. further, when you make massive cuts to medicaid, it is not only health insurance for low-income people who suffer, you're also cutting the nursing home care for seniors. these are elderly people, 80, 90 years of age in a nursing home. and one might argue that these people are the most vulnerable people in this country the most helpless people, fragile people. and we're going to cut programs for them. now, madam chairman, i have talked a little bit about the devastating impact that the house and senate republican budgets would have on the american people, but i think it is equally important when you look at a budget to talk about
not only what a budget does, but to talk about what a budget does not do. the serious problems that it does not address. madam president, poll after poll tells us that the american people when asked what their major concerns are what they almost always respond is saying it is jobs, wages and the economy. that's generally speaking democrats, republicans independents respond it's the economy, jobs, and wages. despite a significant improvement in the economy over the last six years real unemployment today is not 5.5%. it is 11% counting those people who have given up looking for work and those people who are working part time. youth unemployment, an issue that we almost never discuss is at 17%. and african-american youth unemployment is much higher than
that. what the american people want and what the republican budget completely ignores is the need to create millions of decent-paying jobs. if you go out to maine to vermont, to wyoming to california, you ask people what they want and they would say we need more jobs, and those jobs should be paying us a living wage. in my view and in the view of many economists, if we are serious about creating jobs in this country the fastest way to do it is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, our roads, bridges water systems wastewater plants, airports, rail dams, lef levy, broadband in rural areas. according to the american scientists of civil engineers we need to invest $3 trillion by the year 2020 just to get our nation's infrastructure in good repair. and when we make a significant
investment in an infrastructure, we create millions of decent-paying jobs, which is exactly what we should be doing and what our side of the side of the aisle will fight for but it is an issue virtually ignored by the republican majority. crumbling infrastructure, need to create jobs, doesn't talk about it. madam president, at a time when millions of americans are working for starvation wages and when the federal minimum wage is an abysmal $7.25 an hour, we need a budget that substantially increases wages for low-income and middle-income workers. inin the year 2015 no one who works in this country for 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. i would hope that that is a tenet that all of us could agree on. no one should be making the totally inadequate federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour would not only be good for low-income workers it would affect spending programs. sadly when i offered an amendment in committee that called for a substantial increase in the minimum wage, not one of my republican colleagues voted for it. well we're going to give them an opportunity to rethink of error of their ways. we are going to bring an amendment on to the floor to do exactly what the american people want and that is significantly increase the minimum wage in this country so that no one who works 40 hours a week lives in poverty. madam president, we also need pay equity in this country so that women do not make 78 cents on the dollar compared to what a man makes for doing the same work. further, we need to address the
overtime scandal in this country in which many of our people are working 50 or 60 hours a week but fail to get time and a half for their efforts. i haven't heard -- i sat through all the committee meetings, budget committee meetings, was at the markup on thursday, didn't hear one republican word about the need for pay equity for women workers, about the need to address the overtime scandal, about the need to raise the minimum wage. these are the issues the american people want addressed. but look high and low in that long republican budget, you'll not find one word addressing these issues. madam president, i can tell you that in vermont and i suspect every state in this country young people and their families are enormously frustrated by the high cost of college education and the horrendously oppressive student debt that many of them leave school with. student debt today at one point
$2 trillion, is the second-largest category of debt in this country, more than credit card debt and auto loan debt. does the republican budget do anything to lower interest rates on student debt? no. in fact, their budget would make a bad situation even worse by eliminating subsidized student loans and increasing the cost of a college education by about $3,000 for some of the lowest-income students in america. does the republican budget support or comment on president obama's initiative to make two years of community college free? or do they provide any other initiative to make college affordable? sadly, they don't. but what they do do is cut $90 billion in pell grants over a ten-year period, which will make college even more expensive for about eight million low-income college students. madam president, my republican colleagues say that they are concerned about the deficit which, by the way, has been
reduced by more than two thirds since president obama has been in office. and we should be clear this side of the aisle is concerned about the deficit. my republican colleagues are concerned about an $18 trillion national debt which has skyrocketed in recent years. and one of the reasons that it has skyrocketed is that we went to war in iraq and afghanistan and the experts tell us by the time we take care of the last veteran those wars may cost over $5 trillion. and my deficit hawk friends on the republican side, how do they pay for those wars? what taxes did they raise? what programs did they cut? they didn't. they put it on the credit card. that's how they paid for it. and i would tell you madam president, what concerns me very much is apparently two wars unpaid for is not enough
for my republican colleagues. in the committee markup, they put another $38 billion into defense spending on the credit card off budget. so i think we should ask ourselves how does it happen that the move toward their balanced budget approach, they want to cut nutrition education, health care, virtually every program that working families need. but when it comes to defense spending another $38 billion. that's not chump change. even here in washington that's off budget. no problem. just add it to the deficit. madam president, when we talk about sensible ways of addressing our deficit or sensible ways of addressing our national debt, you cannot ignore the reality that major corporation after major
corporation in a given year pays what in taxes? 20%? 10%? 5%? zero% -- zero percent. profitable corporations have not only paid nothing in federal income taxes in some recent years, they actually get rebates from the i.r.s. can we talk about that issue or is the only way toward a balanced budget to cut programs for the elderly the children, the sick and the poor? according to a recent report from the congressional research service, each and every year profitable corporations are avoiding about $100 billion in taxes by slashing, by stashing their profits in the cayman islands. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sanders: and with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: who yields time?
mr. enzi: i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. but if the senator needed a few more minutes. mr. sanders: i thank my colleague. i'll take a few more minutes and if he has more, he should take the rest. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont is recognized. mr. sanders: thank you madam president. the point that i was making is if we are serious about moving, reducing the deficit, it is inconceivable that one does not look at the fact that corporation after corporation is paying zero in federal income tax. it is inconceivable that we do not recognize that in 1952, corporations contributed about 32% of all federal tax revenue.
today they contribute about 11%. it is inconceivable that we do not understand that according to the c.r.s., each and every year profitable corporations are avoiding $100 billion $100 billion in taxes. how can you not look at that issue? how can your only approach be to make it harder for kids to go to college or for little children to go in the head start program? so madam president i look forward to the debate that we will be having over the next several days. i suspect there will be a lot of amendments being offered. i think it's fair to say that on this side of the aisle what the amendments will be saying is that we need to create millions of jobs. we need to raise wages in
america. we need a tax system that is fair and does not contain loopholes that allow the wealthy and large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. we need a budget that says women workers should earn the same as male workers. we need a budget that says we have got to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. so i think there will be a lot of very serious debates. i think the differences between the two sides will become pretty apparent, and i hope the american people pay strong attention to this discussion. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. mr. enzi: i want to thank the ranking -- the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: madam president i apologize. i want to thank the ranking member for his comments.
i appreciate the civility with which we went through the committee process and look forward to having that same civility on the floor. and, yes there's some really important things for us to talk about. i have to agree we need to do some things. and the areas that were mentioned were taxes and wages and health insurance and infrastructure and student debt. we just have a little bit different direction on how to achieve those things. but i'm hoping we can find the common ground on those. the budget itself didn't get into specificity on how to do these things, because our budget committee, what i what i -- while we have people that represent a lot of these different committees don't have the range and expertise that the committees themselves do. what we tried to do in the budget is set the parameters for them to work in and find the solutions that work best within those parameters. we're trying to get this budget done by april 15.
that is a statutory deadline. seldom ever met. i intend to meet that deadline. that's so the appropriators the people doing the spending bills can get started on it so that for once maybe we can have all 12 spending bills debated on the floor, unlimited amendments so that we can get as many of the 100 opinions that we have here here -- i imagine it's 300 or 400 opinions actually -- involved in getting the decisions on how best to spend the money that the united states spends. the finance committee that i'm also on is actually dedicated to getting some tax reform done. i think they'll do it in a bipartisan way. that should eliminate some of the loopholes that have been talked about and also clear up some of the misconceptions there are about some of the things. i'll conclude by just talking a little bit about deficit because i keep hearing the other side saying they have reduced the deficit in half. yes, but the word deficit is so misleading, it's not the debt,
it's the deficit. that's the amount of overspending in any given year. so they have reduced the amount of overspending by one half, but it's still overspent by one half. every time it's overspent that adds to the debt. that's how the $18 trillion gets to $25 trillion in the next ten years. we've got to stop doing that. so i'd appreciate it if they use a different word. somebody said fiscal gap. well maybe fiscal gap is a better word. but it's overspending. overspending can be changed two different ways. can either increase taxes or we can reduce how we're spending the things or we can do a combination of things. until we start talking to each other, we won't be doing any combinations of anything probably. so i'm hoping we can have the civility we had in the committee here on the floor and come up with solutions for america and americans and the hardworking taxpayers of this country who
are really interested in all of these topics and feel that we ought to do something about it and that we shouldn't just be taking a lot of latitude on -- and putting in details that maybe aren't there and there are provisions. i look forward to the debate. i don't see the next speaker so i'll suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. barrasso: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: thank you madam president. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you madam president. madam president, five years ago today, president obama signed his health care bill into law. since then, americans have watched their paychecks shrink because of the law. hardworking american taxpayers have paid billions of dollars in higher taxes because of the law. they have had less health care
choice because of the law. so what does the president say about all of this? what does the president say to the millions of americans who have had to suffer, suffer through a long list of costly and appalling side effects of the president's health care law? well last week he gave a speech in cleveland and he said -- quote -- "it's working even better than i expected." he repeated the same thing this weekend, saying it's working even better than i expected. has the president not seen what's happened to workers' paychecks over the last five years? well maybe the president missed an article by the associated press last wednesday. the headline was health care law paperwork costs small business -- small businesses thousands. the article says complying with the health care law is costing small businesses thousands of dollars that they didn't have to
spend before the new regulations went into effect. it gives an example of mike patton who has a flooring company in the san francisco bay area. now, all of the extra obamacare paperwork is costing him about $25,000 a year. to pay for it, the article said, mike had to cut back on workers' bonuses and raises. he told the associated press that they understand it didn't emanate from us. they are just disappointed that $25,000 could have gone into a bonus pool. mike patton's employees will get less money in their paychecks because of all the complex and costly red tape of obamacare. is this even better than the president expected? people are getting smaller paychecks and they're also paying higher taxes because of this health care law. according to the latest estimate by the congressional budget
office obamacare will increase washington's spending on health care by $1.7 trillion over the next decade. about half of that is for subsidies in the obamacare exchanges and about half is to pay for all of the people who have been dumped onto a broken medicaid system. the $1.7 trillion has to come from somewhere and a lot of it is coming from hardworking american taxpayers. obamacare included more than 20 tax increases on things like medical devices, prescription drugs and even on the very insurance policies that washington democrats said everyone has to buy. why so many taxes? why is obamacare so expensive? well an outrageous amount of the money has been wasted over the last five years. just the other day, there was another example and this one
came out of massachusetts. there was a boston herald article last wednesday march 18. the headline was -- "health connector officials spent $170,000 on perks." the article talks about federal taxpayer money federal taxpayer money that was given to massachusetts to set up the state's obamacare exchange. it says -- "massachusetts health connector officials behind the state's failed health care web site" -- now remember, the health care web site in massachusetts completely failed. "massachusetts health connector officials behind the state's failed health care web site have racked up more than $170,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses. including a boston harbor summertime boat cruise, luxury hotel stays appreciation meals for staffers and contractors and
a $285 obamacare cake commemorating the launch of the affordable care act. according to the article the connector staff and board members scored numerous perks even as they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the state for tall during its botched obamacare rollout. what does the state have to say about this, about the kind of waste and misuse of taxpayer money? well the article actually quotes a spokesman for the exchange saying we were happy to do it. does president obama think that that kind of waste is even better than he expected? it seems like the american people see headlines like this every day and every day they see more ways that the president's health care law has failed us over the last five years.
i'll give you just one more example. that's one of the ways that obamacare has meant less choice for americans when it comes to their own health care. now, president obama promised that you could keep your doctor. millions of americans over the past five years have lost access to their doctor because insurance plans have had to limit the network of doctors that those patients can see. now, that can generate and create real problems for people trying to use their coverage to actually get medical care. now, there is a woman pam docher from roseville california. there was an article by kaiser health news on february 18 that told her story. the headline is even insured consumers get hit. even insured consumers get hit unexpectedly large medical bills. hit with unexpectedly large medical bills.
and she's insured. the article says after pam was diagnosed with breast cancer, she searched her insurer's web site for a participating surgeon to do the reconstructive surgery. the article says she did her homework so she was stunned to get a $10,000 bill from the surgeon. now, quoting her. she says i panicked when i got the bill. no surprise. she panicked when she got the bill said the 60-year-old retired civil servant. it turns out that the surgeon had two offices and only one of those was in the very narrow network of the insurance plan. the office that pam went to wasn't in the network so she got a bill for $10,000. according to this article consumer advocates say that the sheer scope of such problems undermine promises, undermine promises made by proponents of
the affordable care act that the law would protect against medical bankruptcy. it says that advocates believe a growing number of consumers are vulnerable. advocates of the health care law, people that voted for it, advocates of the law believe a growing number, the fifth anniversary of the health care law, a growing number of consumers are vulnerable. president obama said that was exactly the type of situation his law was supposed to prevent. instead, it's exactly the kind of situation that his devastating health care law has created. the obama administration is bragging bragging about the number of people covered by obamacare. is this what those people have to look forward to? does president obama really think that making people like pam panic means his law is working even better than he
expected? it may be better than he expected but it is a lot worse than what american people expected. it is also a lot worse than what they were promised. as a doctor who's practiced medicine for 25 years i know that americans have always wanted affordable care instead of expensive washington-mandated coverage. the american people expected health care reform to give them the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost. five years ago, too many americans are paying higher premiums. here we are five years later americans are paying even higher premiums and finding it harder to see their doctor. this isn't what president obama promised, and it's not what the american people deserve. in the coming months, the supreme court will rule on if the president violated his own
law with an unauthorized spending and taxing scheme. this will be a major blow to a law that has failed americans for more than five years and an opportunity to finally focus on affordable health care. republicans are committed committed to helping the millions of americans who have been hurt by this law. we're working on a plan that will deliver freedom flexibility and choice to americans. five years later the law has been bad for patients, it's been bad for providers and it's been terrible for the american taxpayers. this anniversary today is not a cause for celebration. it is a call for action. thank you madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask that the -- the senate resume its business. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from utah is recognized. mr. hatch: thank you madam president. today marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the so-called affordable care act. of course few people are actually celebrating. five years that's a long time. more than long enough for us to evaluate the impact of the law to determine if it is working. and on that question i think the answer is clear. the president's health law is
not working. not even close. most americans recognize this, madam president. they've seep how the law's failed to deliver on the many promises that were made at the time it was passed. and they want a change. i have more to say on the change in just a few minutes. for mao i'd like to take some time to talk about the lessons we've learned over the last five years. if you think back to 2009 and early 2010 when obamacare was being debated in congress, you remember a number of promises that the law would actually reduce the cost of health care in this country. those were big promises, madam president, after all costs represent the biggest barrier to health care in the u.s. and by almost all accounts the cop concern for health care consumers. you cannot adequately reform health care was reducing costs and on that count believe obamacare is a miserable failure. under the law we've seen premium spikes studies have shown the
health law increased costs in the individual insurance market as much as 50% in 2014 alone. this year we've already seen a 4% increase for benchmark plans in the health insurance exchanges. moreover a recent report found premiums in the most popular exchange france increased by an average of 10% in 2015. in addition to these spikes which some might try to write off as isolated premiums have increased faster overall under obamacare. according to a recent report by the bureau of economic research 2014 premiums in the nongroup insurance market grew by 24.4% on average compared to what they would have been had the law never been passed. looking to the future, costs are projected to continue going up. according to the congressional budget office, premiums will increase by about 6% per year over the next ten years. this increase can be attributed
to a number of factors including high demand for expensive medical care, higher provideer rates as enrollment -- enrollment increases, uncertainty created by regulatory changes under obamacare and the failure of the plan to attract enough young and healthy consumerrers. none of these costs are surprising madam president. despite the promises made by the president and his allies in congress that obamacare would actually reduce costs numerous studies and projections indicate -- indicated that costs would be on the rise after the law was implemented. indeed those of us who opposed the law have been noting this almost nonstop for the last five years. as you can see, the president's health law is a failure on its own terms. the law is named the affordable care act the promise to reduce the cost of health care is right there in the name and by any
measure the law has failed to live up to this promise. of course, the failure to bring down costs isn't the only problem we've seen with regard to obamacare. another major problem the lack of security and failed oversight of the online marketplace which has put consumers' personal information at risk of fraud or theft. it started with a lack of preparation. two government watchdogs the g.a.o. and h.h.s. office of inspector general found that healthcare.gov was given a green light to launch even so this was not adequately secure. it continued with weak security. shortly after the launch of exchanges g.a.o. found security problems in state computer systems that linked to the federal network and warned -- quote -- "increased and unnecessary risks remain if un-- of unauthorized access, disclosure or modifications of
the information contained by healthcare.gov." c.m.s. made changes but even with the changes in place the office of the inspector general remained concerned about security issues including the use of encryption technology that did not meet government standards. i was one of the first members of congress to note the security problems and i introduced legislation to address some of them. sadly, with the democrats in charge of the senate, the legislation did not go anywhere. and the results were predictable. in late 2013, and early 2014, cybersecurity experts warned that healthcare.gov web site was vulnerable to hacking and sure enough in july of last year the site was hacked resulting in the upload of malicious code. these security problems are a prime example of how careless and haphazard the obama
administration has been as lit tried to implement the affordable care act. sadly, there are even more examples many of which directly impact the lives and livelihoods of the american people. as this tax session has commenced we've seep how the health law and the administration's poor management of it has resulted in frustration and delay for hardworking taxpayers. let's talk about that frustration. according to r. & r block in the first six weeks of this tax filing season, 52% of customers who enrolled in insurance with the state or federal exchanges had to repay a portion of the advance premium tax credit that they received under obamacare. that same report found that individuals on average are having to repay about $530, which is decreasing their tax refunds by an average of roughly 17%. now, let's talk about delay. on february 20 2015, the
obama administration announced that due to an error in the health law they sent out about 800,000 incorrect tax statements relating to form 1095-a meaning that hundreds of thousands of americans may be seeing delays in their tax refunds this year. these are just some of the people's hardworking -- some of the problems hardworking taxpayers are facing as they try to deal with obamacare during this tax season. while the ramifications to taxpayers are significant, the overall impact on america's budget is even greater. the total overall cost of obamacare so far has numbered in the tens of billions of dollars and we're barely through the first phases of implementation. in numerous areas taxpayers have been left on the hook for funds that were doled out for obamacare to states, corporations and contractors with little or no
accountability. unfortunately, a significant portion of that money resulted in no benefit whatsoever to the taxpayers. last week the finance committee held a hearing on the anniversary of obamacare where i noted five specific misuses of taxpayer funds that have resulted from obamacare. in just these five areas roughly $5.7 billion went to projects that added absolutely no value. those examples of wasteful spending bear repeating here today. one, failed state exchanges. according to c.r.s., $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds have been spent on state exchanges that failed and were ever operational. that's a congressional research service. which is bipartisan. number two consumer oriented and operated plans or co-ops. c.m.s. has loaned $2.4 billion
to 24 co-ops, one of which failed before it enrolled anyone. when all is said and done, nearly half of this money will be lost due to defaults or art facially low interest rates and c.m.s. has no plans to recoup any of these funds meaning a total cost of taxpayers of around $1 billion. number three healthcare.gov web site. the failures of the federal insurance marketplace are well documented. despite fixes that eventually came to the web site, the total cost of the failed enrollment system surpassed $2 billion. circo, the contractor was awarded $1.2 billion to manage paper applications during the first enrollment period of the health care law. very few of the applications received were on paper and circo employers had -- employees had little to do.
one former employee of the company felt ashamed after leaving the company and reached out to the "the st. louis post dispatch" saying i feel guilty working there as long as i did. it was like i was stealing money from people, unquote. number five, marketplace navigators. i'm just mentioning a few of these. the administration has spent over $120 million on the navigator program for the 2014 and 2015 open enrollment periods. with enrollment in the exchanges surpassing 11 million individuals the efficacy of the navigator program has yet to be determined. the overall value of the program is at best inconclusive. and worst it represents more wasted taxpayer dollars. these are just five examples of misguided, poorly defined and improperly managed aspects of the health care law. there are, of course, many others. finding maps -- finally madam president, there shall
the unilateral charges the administration has made to delay, extend or modify elements of the affordable care act without action or even input from congress. i've been on the floor a number of times to talk about the overreach on the part of the administration when it comes to implementing obamacare so up won't go into excruciating detail today. we all know those abuses have taken place. it's no secret. without statutory authority the administration twice delayed the employer mandate. they created a transition period out of thin air so that the president could pretend that his promise that -- quote -- "if you like your health care plan you can keep it" -- unquote was not a lie. there have been numerous exemptions and special enrollment periods created to help the administration avoid negative fallout from patients and the business community. and it wasn't true that if you liked your health care plan you could keep it. all told, the obama administration has made
literally dozens of unilateral changes to the health care law apparently recognizing that as drafted the law is as problematic as its critics have said. madam president, i could go on but i think i've sufficiently made some of the points that need to be made. the so-called affordable care act is by any objective measure a dismal favor. while its proponents continue to cherry pick favor points in order to tell the american people the law works the majority of us know it's true. it's time for a change. i support a complete repeal of the president's health law but a repeal isn't good enough. we need to replace obamacare with health reforms that actually work. that's why i join my colleagues senator burr and chairman upton of the house energy and commerce committee in unveiling the patient care act a legislative proposal that will actually reduce the cost of health care in this country while giving people more rights to choose
what kind of health care they really want to pay money for. our proposal is a serious workable solutions to the problems caused by the affordable care act. and it's out there for everyone to see. i want to once again encourage all of my colleagues to look it over and provide your thoughts and input on our ideas. we'd be interested in hearing from you and if those ideas can be improved, we're certainly interested in improving them. once again madam president the five-year anniversary of the affordable care act is hardly cause for celebration but it should be time for all of us, particularly those of us -- particularly those who supported the law at the outset to reflect on the last five years and decide how we want to move forward when it comes to our nation's health care system. and i hope our colleagues will think about that. this bill was passed through both bodies on a totally partisan vote with 100% of the democrats voting in each body. i think i made a pretty compelling case for why the current law isn't working and
why we need to go in a different direction. i just hope that eventually my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will reach this same conclusion so that we can work together to come up with a health care system and health care set of laws that will really work, do good for the american people and give us some element of respectability in the congress that -- what i think the congress needs at this particular time. madam president, i yield the floor. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cotton: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator is recognized. mr. cotton: madam president this week we will debate the budget a key part is the military budget, the one part of our government where the strategy and threats must drive the budget, not vice versa. the greatest threat to our national security is a nuclear-armed iran, and this man, ayatollah khomeini, the supreme leader of iran. last week marked the beginning
of the persian new year. we were treated to speeches by president obama and iran's prime leader. i have to say that president obama'spresidentobama's speech was ill-advised. he spoke to the iranian people directly. let's be clear about one thing. iranians who speak up tend to disappear into secret prisons or wind up hanging from cranes by the neck. worse, by acting as if public opinion matters to the ayatollah ayatollahs, president obama is treating iran as if it were a legitimate democracy. no president should legitimate such a regime which only emboldens the dictator and undermines the iranian people struggling. today i want to focus on the speech of this man ayatollah khomeini the supreme leader of iran. the ayatollah gave his speech on saturday just two days ago. it may have escaped your
attention, but it wasn't exactly a new year's message filled with blessings of hope and peace. ayatollah khomeini has never been a great admirer of america of course. he sometimes likes to refer to us as "the great satan." during his speech he whipped the crowd into chants of "death to america." what was his response to that chant? he said "yes, certainly death to america!" "death to america" just two days ago. remember, this is the leader with whom the united states is negotiating today a theocratic tyrant who in the middle of nuclear negotiations chants "death to america." i would suggest we might rethink the wisdom of granting nuclear concessions to such a man. unfortunately, ayatollah khomeini may know his negotiating partners somewhat better than they know themselves. for the ayatollah also observed
"iran's enemies particularly america's are moving forward with prudence and diplomacy, i understand them. they know what they are doing. they need these negotiations. america needs the nuclear negotiations." regrettably, he's right that he understands his enemies since the west, especially the president, acts as if we need these negotiations more than iran does. after all we had iran on its knees in 2013 when president obama gave iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief for merely starting negotiations. the west has extended negotiations twice in exchange for nothing. the president has also made a series of one-sided concessions from iran's uranium enrichment capabilities to the length of the nuclear agreement. so yes unfortunately ayatollah khomeini is correct when he says he understands his enemies. let's consider what he said about the negotiations in this light. this past weekend the ayatollah
emphasizeed, "we are absolutely not negotiating or holding discussions with the americans over regional or domestic issues and neither over weapons capabilities." again, he's absolutely right. iran has a ballistic missile program which it only needs needs if it wants to strike the united states or our european allies because it already has missiles capable of striking israel or anywhere else in the middle east. yet we've removed its missile program from the negotiating table just like we've removed the possible military dimensions from the table even though that's critical to understanding how far they've progressed toward a bomb. and it's not just their weapons capabilities. note that the ayatollah also said "iran isn't negotiating over regional issues." he made this point repeatedly saying also, "we are not negotiating with the americans over regional issues. u.s. goals in the region are in complete contrast with our goals
goals." and, "negotiations with the u.s. are only over the nuclear issue and nothing else. everyone should be aware of this this. "by regional issues and our goals, to be clear ayatollah khomeini means iran's drive for regional hogememeny. the capital of yemen has been seized causing our troops to ev.a. vaq wait. iran-backed shy militias -- despite this multi-front aggression, president obama is compartmentalizing the nuclear negotiations as if iran's drive for hoe gem knee and its pursuit of nuclear weapons are unrelated rather than both springing from the regime's revolutionary nature. president obama wrote a private letter to ayatollah khomeini, his fourth private letter to the
ayatollah in part reassuring him that the united states wouldn't undermine assad's regime in syria. is it any wonder that the ayatollah boasts the negotiations are so limited? or is it any wonder what ayatollah khomeini said this weekend about sanctions relief. president obama and secretary keep insisting that captions can only be lifted gradually as iran demonstrates compliance with any deal. the ayatollah is having none of that. he said this past weekend "the lifting of the sanctions is part of the issues being negotiated and not the outcome of the negotiations." in other words in exchange for the ayatollah's ephemeral and easily reversed promises, "sanctions must be lifted immediately following an agreement." that's not a splittable difference. and let's just say our side's history of one-sided concessions doesn't inspire confidence that we will resume sanctions regime
that it took toocts to assemble fully. finally, ayatollah khomeini wants the world to know that iran want be bound imert imperpetuity by the terms. "the americans keep saying that there should be irreversibility in the terms iran septembers and the decisions it makes we do not accept that." the ayatollah is happy to pocket concessions now for billions of dollars in sanctions relief and international legitimacy while pre-sesqui the option of going nuclear in the future, much as north korea did after the 1994. i understand ayatollah would want that deal but why would we? this is the man with whom we are negotiating. evil men rarely cloak their wicked intints and i urge my fellow senators and americans to
may attention to ayatollah's part words. when someone chafntses "yes, certainly, death to america," we should take him at his word and we shouldn't put him on the path to a nuclear bomb. those words are appalling enough. let's not give him the ability to act on them. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
was in the house of representatives for 16 years and i've been in the senate now for eight. and during all of that time this country faced and still faces a major health care crisis. as you know, the united states is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all of our people. and today despite the modest gains of the affordable care act, which i will discuss in a moment we still have about 40 million americans without any health insurance. and, by the way despite so many uninsured and so many underinsured we end up paying by far per capita the highest cost of any other country. how does it happen? millions of people uninsured millions more underinsured, and we end up paying per capita
almost double what any other nation faces. now, i was in the congress during the years of the bush administration and i waited eagerly to hear what my republican colleagues had to say about tens of millions of people without any health insurance and about the cost of health care being so expensive. and i waited, and i waited, and my republican colleagues had nothing to say. apparently the private insurance companies were doing just great under that system. drug companies were charging our people the highest prices in the world under that system. what's po -- to complain about? so 40 million 50 million people have no health insurance people can't afford health care, not a problem to my republican colleagues. five years ago the congress, with no republican support passed the affordable care act.
and let me be very clear i voted for the affordable care act. i will be the first to say that the affordable care act has many problems and in fact in many ways did not go anywhere near as far as it should have gone. by far not a perfect piece of legislation. but yet i still wait to hear what my republican colleagues have to say about how we address the health care crisis other than doing what they are doing in this budget, which is to repeal the affordable care act completely. so let's take a look at what the affordable care act obamacare has accomplished and what they want to end completely. mr. president, after five years of the affordable care act, more than 16 million americans have gained health coverage. many of those people never had
health insurance in their entire life. some of those people were getting their health care through the emergency room at outrageously high costs. since 2013, we have seen the largest decline in the uninsured rate in decades and the nation's uninsured rate is now at the lowest level ever recorded. just since october 2013, the uninsured rate for nonelderly adults has fallen by 35%. 16 million more americans have health insurance. republican response: get rid of the a.c.a. throw 16 million americans off of health insurance. since the affordable care act was enacted, health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years.
all of us can remember seven eight, ten years ago health care insurance rates 20% 30% increase. since the affordable care act was enacted, health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years. are they going up? yes, they are but at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years. thanks to exceptionally slow growth in per person costs throughout our health care system national health expenditures grew at the slowest rate on record. on record from 2010 through 2013. are we making progress in controlling the growth in health care costs? yes, we are. republican response: throw it out. mr. president, ten million
low-income americans are now able to get health insurance through medicaid. and if you are a low-income american struggling to make ends meet and not able to afford health care, in many instances this is health insurance that saves your life. it saves your life because you now have the opportunity, maybe for the first time in years, to be able to go into a doctor's office because you have medicaid. republican response: throw it out. ten million low-income americans no longer have health insurance. mr. president, all of us remember not some years ago before the a.c.a., you have a kid and at the age of -- you have health insurance for your family. and when your child reaches the age of 21 that child is now off of your health insurance plan.
huge uninsured numbers for young people in this country who are no longer able to be on their parents health insurance plan. well under the affordable care act, some 5.7 million young adults have been able to stay on their parents pop policies. the uninsured rates for young adults has dropped by 40%. well, i'd like to see it drop even more than that, but 40% is nothing to sneeze at. the republican response? let's make sure that all of these young people from 21 to 26 rejoin the ranks of the uninsured. mr. president, one of the great scandals that existed in this country before we had the
affordable care act -- and we think back on it, people find it hard to believe but if somebody was diagnosed with diabetes, with cancer, with heart disease with aids, whatever it may be, and that person walked into an insurance company and said, you know i need some insurance and you filled out forms and the insurance company says, oh, you had breast cancer three years ago. we're not going to insure you. you had diabetes. you're not going to get insurance. so the people who need insurance -- needed insurance the most were the people least likely to be able to get insurance. can you imagine that, that people who had a history of heart disease history of cancer scared to death that it may reoccur in absolute need of insurance, insurance companies said no, we can discriminate against you. you are sick, you may get sick
again. we'll have to pay out money. we don't want your business. well the a.c.a. did something that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. it provided protections for people with preexisting conditions. republicans want to end the a.c.a. that is in this budget. they want to get rid of it. so for those of you who have serious illnesses understand that if the republicans seed, you may -- if the republicans succeed, you may not be able to get health insurance because we'll go back to a time when companies could discriminate against people with serious illnesses. before the a.c.a., many individuals couldn't gain access to health insurance for a variety of illnesses -- quote unquote -- including pregnancy. i guess pregnancy is an illness that you don't deserve insurance for. it doesn't make a lot of sense to most americans but that is what will reoccur if the
republicans are successful. millions of seniors in this country are struggling in terms of how to pay for their medicines. the cost of medicine in america is very, very high, the highest of any country on earth. and what the affordable care act is it moves to close the doughnut hole, which means money that has to come out of seniors' own pockets. republican budget gets passed, that gets implemented into law. seniors will now be paying significantly more for their prescription drugs. the affordable care act includes important help to seniors in the doughnut hole, including 45% discounts on the cost of their drugs, but allowing the full price of the drug to be counted toward the amount they need to spend to get out of the hole.
the affordable care act gives people access to free preventive care that keeps them healthy and out of the hospital. the affordable care act ends discrimination against women by health insurance companies so that they don't have to pay more for health insurance simply because they are a woman. are we going to go back to the days that because a patient was a woman she has to pay more for health insurance than a man? i certainly hope not but that is what happens if you end the affordable care act. the affordable care act protects against a practice by insurance companies of including lifetime limits in their policies. prior to the a.c.a., many insurance plans included lifetime limits, a limit on the
amount of coverage that plan would provide an individual or family in their lifetime. in other words if somebody was racking up large claims because they were seriously ill the insurance company said sorry that's it, we're not going to pay any more. those are the days that we want to go back to. so i think mr. president that we can all agree that the affordable care act is far from perfect. in my provide health care to every person in this country as a right. and i will do it through a medicare for all program. other people have different ideas. but it is hard for me to imagine anyone thinking that the solution to america's health care problems today is simply
eliminate the affordable care act. let me change topics, mr. president and take a broader look at the republican budget going beyond the affordable care act, which they want to abolish. mr. president, the question that we have got to ask ourselves is whether or not we are such a poor country that we should move toward a republican budget which enables forces more and more people to have no health insurance, which makes it harder for working families to send their kids to college which makes it harder for low-income families to send their kids to head start which cuts back on
nutrition programs, whether it's the food stamp program the meals on wheels program the w.i.c. program which helps people, who are struggling literally with trying to come up with the income to adequately feed themselves. we have many people in this country who are actually hungry and the republican budget cuts those programs. are we such a poor country that those are the choices that stand before us? i think not. i think the facts are quite the opposite. i think the facts tell us that the united states of america is, in fact, the wealthiest country on this planet, and in fact we have never been a more wealthy country. we're not a poor country. we're an extremely wealthy country. the problem that we face is that we have a grotesque level of
income and wealth and equality such that tens of millions of families are struggling economically many are hungry while at the other side people on top are doing phenomenally well. but when you add it all together it turns out that we are a very, very wealthy country, and the idea that people would come forward and say we are going to make it harder for low-income families to feed their kids. we are going to make it harder for wowing class families to send their kids to college. we're going to make it harder for working families to get their kids into child care is a totally absurd argument. we are not a poor country and let me demonstrate to you how we are not a poor country.
mr. president, when some of us talk about the rich getting richer -- and that's kind of a general statement -- let me be more specific. from the year 2013 to the year 2015 the wealthiest 14 americans, 14 people, 1-4 increased their net wealth by more than $157 billion over the past two years. 14 people, wealthiest 14 billionaires in america saw their net wealth increase by more than $157 billion from 2013 to 2015. let me be even more specific, and you tell me whether this is a poor nation that cuts kids off
of health insurance a poor nation that denies nutrition to families that need it, a poor nation that cuts back on meals and wheels for elderly low-income seniors. here's what's going on in this quote -- unquote -- poor nation. from march of 2013 to march of 2015, bill gates the wealthiest person in america saw his wealth increase by $12.2 billion, going from $67 billion to $79 billion in 2015. warren buffett during that period saw his wealth increase by $19 billion. one guy two years. larry ellison saw his wealth increase by $11 billion. the koch brothers saw their wealth increase by almost $18 billion in a two-year period. the waltons saw huge increases
in their wealth. they are the wealthiest family in america. christie walton went up by $13.5 billion. jim walton by $13.9 billion. s. robeson walton by $13 billion. michael bloomberg saw his wealth increase by $8.5 billion. jeff bezos went up by $9.6 billion. mark zuckerberg's went up by $20 billion. shelled on adelson went up by $5 billion. larry page went up by $6.7 billion. sergey brin's wealth wept up by $6.4 billion. added together, their wealth went up by $157 billion. this is a reality my republican friends don't want to deal with. they do not want to ask the wealthiest people in this country, many of whom are paying an effective tax rate lower than truck drivers and lower than nurses to start paying their
fair share of taxes. their solution to the deficit problem is to cut programs for working families, the elderly the children, the sick and the poor. and despite the fact that the billionaires of this country are doing phenomenally well, their view is oh, no, we can't go to those guys. they may be potential campaign contributors. we're going to go after the elderly. they don't contribute a whole lot. elderly people on the meals and wheels program. elderly people making $14,000 a year. those are the easy targets. they have no political power here in washington. they have no lobbyists out there. we'll just go after the working families the poor, the elderly the children, the sick. they are easy. many of them don't even vote. we will go after them. but we have to protect the interests of the wealthy and the powerful. mr. president, at a time when the richest 400 americans paid a
tax rate of just 16.7% in 2012, the second lowest on record, the republican budget does nothing to ask the wealthiest americans to pay their fair share of taxes to create jobs or reduce the deficit. they're immune. the rich get richer. leave them alone. no problem. working families pay a higher effective tax rate than billionaires. not a problem. because we are going to cut the deficit by going after the most vulnerable people in this country, people who don't have a lot of political power. while the effective tax rates of large, profitable corporations was just 12.6% in 2010 and corporate profits are at an all-time high, the republican budget does nothing to end the outrageous loopholes that allow major corporations to avoid $100 billion a year in taxes by
shifting their profits to the cayman islands and other offshore tax havens. now, why would you ask large profitable corporations who in some cases pay zero in federal income tax to start paying their fair share of taxes? these are powerful people. these are people who have lobbyists all over capitol hill. these are people who make campaign contributions. why would we ask them to start paying their fair share of taxes? at a time when billionaire hedge fund managers on wall street pay a lower effective tax rate than a truck driver or a nurse the republican budget does not eliminate the carried interest loophole that costs the federal government $16 billion in lost revenue over the next ten years. the republican budget protects over $40 billion in unnecessary and expensive tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas companies, even as the five largest oil companies alone make
more than a trillion dollars in profit over the last decade. ask large profitable oil companies to pay more in taxes? don't be ridiculous, not when you can cut programs for hungry kids or cut head start or cut pell grants for working class young people. but let me tell you what this budget does do. at a time when millions of americans are working longer hours for low wages the republican budget paves the way for a tax hike averaging over $900 per person for 13 million families. $900 apiece for more than 13 million families with 25 million children by allowing the expansions of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit to expire.
so we can't ask billionaires who are doing phenomenally well to pay more in taxes. that we don't do. we can't ask corporations who stash their money in tax havens in the cayman islands to start paying their fair share of taxes. we can't do that. but what we can do is impact the lives of millions of working families by allowing the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit to expire. in other words we raise taxes for low-income americans and working class americans and the middle class but we do not ask the wealthy and large corporations to pay more in taxes. further, the republican budget paves the way for a tax hike of about $1,100 for 12 million families and students paying for college by allowing the american opportunity tax credit to
expire. so if you're a family trying to send your kid to college you're going to have to pay more because our republican colleagues are allowing the american opportunity tax credit to expire. mr. president, the republican senate budget would balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable people in our society. it would slash investments in education, health care, nutrition and affordable housing while paving the way for another unpaid war by significantly increasing the fed spending. it also would not ask millionaires billionaires and profitable corporations to contribute one penny for deficit
reduction. no. it's only working families and the middle class and low-income people who have got to help us do deficit reduction not billionaires or large corporations. mr. president, as we all know, the budget that we are debating today is not an appropriation bill. it is a budget bill which by the way is filled with magic asterification. those little asterification which tell us -- magic asterisks. those little asterisks can tell us nothing about how republicans are going to be moving to a balanced budget. but by making over $5 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade $5 trillion reasonable estimates have been made about the harm that those cuts would do to the american people. at a time when the cost of college education is becoming
out of the reach for millions of americans, the republican budget would eliminate mandatory pell grants cutting this program by nearly $90 billion over ten years, which would increase the cost of a college education for more than eight million americans. take a deep breath and think about this. young people all over this country -- and i know this because i go to a lot of vermont high schools. you talk to kids and they're wondering about how they are going to be able to afford to go to college. they're worried about the high cost of college. the republican solution is to cut -- eliminate mandatory pell grants cutting this program by over $90 billion during a ten-year period. so what they are doing is making a very difficult situation even more difficult in terms of enabling the middle class and
working families of this country to be able to send their kids to college. i think everybody who has children or grandchildren understands that we have a major preschool and child care crisis in this country and in vermont and all over this nation, it is very difficult for middle income americans to find decent quality, affordable child care or preschool education for their kids. within that context of a crisis in child care, the republican solution is to give us a budget that would mean that 110,000 fewer young people, young children would be able to enroll in head start over the next ten years. so we have got a crisis in terms of higher education. what to do is cut back on pell
grants making it harder for families to send their kids to college. you have got a crisis in child care. what the republicans do is cut back on head start meaning that 110,000 young children would be able to receive -- be able to get into the head start program. under the republican budget, 1.9 million fewer students would receive the academic help they need to succeed in school by some $12 billion in tax cuts for the title one educational program. the individuals with disabilities in education act would be cut by $10 billion over the next decade, which would shift the cost to states and local school districts and could lead to increased property taxes for millions of americans. at a time when there are more than 20 million hungry
americans, people who in the course of the week are not quite sure how they're going to get the food they need to survive when many working families are running to emergency food shelters in order to get the help they need to feed their families the republican budget would take some 1.2 million women, infants and young people from the w.i.c. program women and infant and child nutrition program, that goes to pregnant women and new mothers they would cut that by $10 billion over a ten-year period, impacting some 1.2 million women, infants and young children. so once again we do not ask billionaires to start paying their fair share of taxes but we tell a pregnant mother or the mother of a young child that the nutrition programs that she has
been receiving to make sure that her kids are eating well, well, that's going to be cut by $10 billion over a ten-year period. mr. president, i come from a cold-weather state. we've had a very rough february. just yesterday the weather was -- in my hometown about 10 degrees. under the republican budget, up to 900,000 families would be denied the help they need to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer by cuts to the liheap program low-income home energy assistance program $5 billion cut over the next decade impacting some 900,000 families. and many of them on liheap, by the way are seniors. a good percentage of them. these are elderly people without a lot of money in cold-weather states trying to keep warm in the wintertime. well we're going to see a $5 billion cut in that program over the next decade.
mr. president, in vermont and i think in many parts of this country we have a real housing problem for low-income people. the cost of rent in many cases is michigan more than people can afford. people are spending 40% 50% of their limited incomes on rent. and to address that problem the republican budget would kick nearly a half a million families off the section 8 affordable housing program and out of their homes by cutting section 8 by $46 billion over a ten-year period. so you got low-income people all over this country --, i see it every day in vermont paying 40%, 50% 60% of their income for rent, and what the republican budget does is cuts $46 billion over ten years from section 8 housing.
again, making a bad situation worse. at a time when real unemployment is 11% the republican budget cuts job training and employment services for american two million americans. so mr. president what we have here is a budget which in many ways is a robin hood budget in reverse. at a time when the rich are getting richer, and the middle class is getting poorer, the republicans take from the middle class and working families to give more to the rich and large corporations. the republican budget has a set of priorities that are way way, way out of touch with where the american people are. during the next week there are going to be a number of amendments being offered by members on our side which will create jobs for the unemployed,
raise wages for low-income workers, address the overtime crisis facing millions of americans who are not getting time and a half when they should. we have a lot of -- to provide pay equity for women workers address this issue of tax breaks for the rich and large corporations, which are unconscionable and unsustainable. that's what we will be doing and i look forward to that debate and those amendments. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note that senator markey is here and has asked for, i believe ten minutes. mr. markey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you mr. president. i just want to follow on to the comments that we were being articulated by the senator from vermont. he's done an excellent job in laying out these issues for the american people to deliberate
upon this week as we debate the budget of the united states of america. right now, millions of americans are gripped by march madness and the final four showdown. but for our nation's seniors and the middle class the real march madness is happening right here with the proposed republican budget. our country isn't like the big dance. america was not built on a zero-sum game where one side wins and the other side loses. but that's exactly what this republican budget does. it picks winners and it picks losers. so let's take a look at the g.o.p.'s budget bracket. the republican final four features their perennial favorites, in the first game they have seniors versus special interests.
well in this republican budget it removes 11 million families from medicaid, including 400,000 seniors in my state of massachusetts alone. it turns medicare into a voucher program. it forces millions of seniors including 80,000 in massachusetts, who receive medicare to pay $1,000 more for their prescription drugs next year, and it does all of this while reserving tax breaks for special interests like deductions for corporate jets and for shipping jobs overseas. and the budget preserves billions for atomic bombs of the past supported by the defense industry which is why i introduced legislation today to cut $100 billion over ten years from our bloated nuclear weapons program. and so no surprises yet in the
g.o.p. budget bracket, special interests advance and seniors lose. so that's the first match. seniors lose. not unexpected. in the next game,if it's a battle of generations. it's the old guard of wall street against the new blood of our nation, our students. so what does the g.o.p. budget do? well it cuts eight million pell grants for college students by almost one-third making college less affordable for millions of young people and their families. it yanks 100,000 children from the head start program over the next ten years. and it does all that while not meeting the needs of the wall street cops on the beat at the commodity futures trading commission and it puts americans at risk from predatory lenders
and credit card scams by continuing the g.o.p. effort to kill the consumer financial protection bureau. so in the battle between the wall street board rooms and america's classrooms, it's the big money over the little guy yet again. in the next david versus go liate match up it's working families against billionaires. certainly the spirit of america's working families is deserving of a win but there's no cinderella story with the republican becoming. that's because it kicks nearly 900,000 families off of low-income energy assistance. so families will need to decide between heating and eating. this budget includes $660 billion in cuts over the next decade to federal programs that lift up our most vulnerable
like food stamps, school lunches school nutrition programs slash slash, slash. according to the center for budget and policy priorities, 69% of nondefense cuts included in the house and senate budget resolutions come from these programs that serve the poor, the sick, the needy in our society. and this budget sticks to the republican policy of not increasing the minimum wage, keeping millions of americans who want to get into the middle class out of the game. and are the billionaires asked to do more with less? do they have any tax breaks taken away? do they pay a little more to make sure the less fortunate are better off? no. the republican refs make sure that the playing field remains tilted in their favor. it's another win for the rich.
and now the matchup we've all been waiting for it's the big oil juggernaut against clean energy. and change. in a -- climate change. in a republican senate, big oil is undefeated but can upstart american clean energy companies pull out a win? well the republican budget protects billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil companies while killing the wind energy tax credit. the republican unwillingness to extend the tax credit has already cost us 30,000 american jobs in the last few years. republicans continue to deny the existence of climate change by stopping funding to protect communities against sea level rise and stronger storms even though 2014 was the warmest year on record and extreme weather impacted every part of the country. and it does all this while handing over more of our public
lands to big oil and coal companies instead of preserving it for all americans. so who's the winner? no surprise, big oil. they keep all their tax breaks even as we're taking money away from seniors from students, from working families, from a clean energy future in our country, no surprise. because when you have the republican budget final four, special interests, wall street billionaires, and big oil, the fix was in from the start. unlike the march madness games we love to watch each year, there are never any upsets in the republicans' bracket. there are no budget buzzer beaters. in fact, the only ones upset here are grandma grandpa students, clean energy workers, and hardworking americans. senate republicans once again are trotting out their well-worn
playbook to pick the winners and losers in our society and in our economy. because in this budget there are clear winners and there are clear losers. special interests score huge on big tax breaks. wall street gets to block regulation. billionaires take a bigger share of the winnings. and big oil remains undefeated. meanwhile, american families and industries lose. seniors pay more for health care. working families pay more for energy. students pay more for college. clean energy companies cut more workers. stopping this incredible clean energy revolution in our country. this is the real march madness. the republican budget that makes winners out of big oil and billionaires while the clock runs out on seniors and hardworking americans who are
left to fend for themselves. i implore my colleagues to reject this scheme and to create a plan that does not bust the budgets of families across this nation. i call upon my colleagues to reject this completely and totally distorted sense of priorities for our country. i call for my colleagues to put together a budget for the future of our country that invests in students invests in clean energy invests in research, invests in what the 21st century should be all about while we pay the proper respect to our seniors in our country. we cannot leave the poor and the sick and the elderly behind. we have obligations in this country. we understand that this country has been made the great country it is, the greatest in the history of the world by remembering our obligations to all of those that built our
country, not just those in the upper 1% who have been the primary beneficiaries but the other 99% who got up every single morning and wept to work as well. the other 99% who built this country and its values from the ground up. we have an obligation to them as well. this republican budget does not reflect that. i urge a no vote on the republican budget and i again want to thank my colleague from the state of vermont for being articulate passionate, moral voice that ensures that this debate is heard by every single american our country. and, mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time.
mr. sanders: mr. president skilled that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. mr. president, i just wanted to reiterate what i think is the key point in this entire debate, and that point is whether or not we develop a budget that works for the vast majority of our families working families, middle-class families, who in many instances are working longer hours for lower wages; whether it works for our children at a time when we're experiencing the highest rate of childhood posts ofchildhood poverty
whether it works for our elderly citizens who ofntion have to make the choice about whether or not they heat their homes buy the medicine that they need, buy the food they need, millions of people in that position. do we have a budget that works for them, ambassador we have a budget that works -- or do we have a budget at that works 230r for the top 1%, people who are doing phenomenally well? so i want to get back to this chart. i want everybody to take a deep breath and think about this. at a time when the top .1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90% when the people on ton, the very wealthiest americans are doing almost beyond the imagination well, do you really want to cut food
stamps and nutrition programs for hungry kids? do you really want to make college education less affordable for working families? do you really want to ask seniors to pay more for prescription drugs? people trying to live on $13,000, $14,000 a year. so here's the chart. this comes from "forbes" magazine not notably a left-wing publication. here are the facts. that the top 14 wealthiest people in this country have seen their net worth increase by $157 billion over the last two years. 14 people. do my republican colleagues go to these people and say you know what? you're americans. we've got a lot of problems
here. our middle class is disappearing. we have an infrastructure which is crumbling. we got millions of families cannot afford to send sthear kids to college. you, the top .1% are doing feng nominee nolle well. is it so hard to say that you maybe have to pay little bit more in taxes? bill gates in that two-year period from 2013 to 2015, saw his wealth increase by $12 billion. warren buffett $19 million. charles koch almost $9 billion. david koch almost $9 billion. christie walton over $9 billion. michael bloomberg, $.5 billion. jeff besos $9.6 billion. sheldon aiden son $4.9 billion.
that is just the increase in their net worth in a two-year period. who can deny that the very richest people in this country are doing phenomenally well? how do you ignore that reality? how do you not say to those people you're going to have to help with us our infrastructure, with education with our deficit? but my republican colleagues have a different approach. their approach is to say to working families, well, we're going to make it harder for your kids to get into head start. we're going to make it harder for you to get the nutrition programs you need to keep your family from going hungry. we're going to make it harder for seniors to get the prescription drugs they need. so i think this budget -- the choices are pretty clear. it is laid right out there. the republicans want to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick
and the poor appeared protect all these guys, not ask them to pay one nickel more in taxes. i this i that is wrong from a moral perspective from an economic perspective and i think this is a budget that should be defeated w that, -- defeated. with that, mr. president i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president it's my understanding that reserved time is now available for joint economic committee particularly in my regard, to present the report that is part of the budgetary process. so i will go forward with that. it's an honor for me to serve as chairman of that committee the joint economic committee. one of the main roles of that committee is to report to the senate budget committee and to my colleagues in the senate on the state of the economy and that`s why i'm here today.
last week dr. jason furman the president's council on economic advisors appeared before the joint committee to discuss this topic as well as discuss the findings of the annual economic report of the president. our committee is tasked with evaluating and responding to that president's economic report. last week our committee released our findings and recommendations, and i'm here today to present some of those findings. we found that despite the improvements in economic conditions over the past year, our economy remains stuck in second gear. let me tell you why we have concluded that. we often hear -- i often hear back home from hoosiers and i know my colleagues hear back home from people they represent that people need to take action to grow the economy and i think it's safe to say that all of us in the senate think the same way. but the age-old question in economics is this: how does a
nation best create an environment for economic growth and raise living standards for its citizens? we're now nearly six years into this recovery. while there are many encouraging signs of economic improvement particularly in the last several months the recovery has been modest and there still are many americans in need of and still seeking meaningful job opportunities. since 1960, our nation has experienced seven recessions and recoveries. the recoveries in the past 50 years provide comparative data to measure the progress of our current recovery. on the measures of g.d.p., job and income growth in our current economy ranks either dead last or second to last in all of those previous seven recoveries. let me restate that. in the last 50 years we've had
seven major recessions. following those recessions has been an economic recovery, as things get sorted out and the economy kicks back in. if you take all those seven and you average them out in terms of what the results were following the recession you get a certain number of numbers. what we've seen now in this last recession is performance far under the average of those seven. and in fact, dead last of those seven. let me just give you a couple of metrics here. annual gross domestic product -- that's the total of everything, everything produced has a value -- grew 4% in the average post-1960 recovery, while this recovery has averaged just 2.3% of gross domestic product growth. so about half of what the average of the previous
recessions that -- so we're growing half that rate. personal income rose an average of 15.3% in the past recoveries. during this recovery, personal income has reached only 7.1% growth less than half of what the average is for the previous seven recoveries. at the same time median household income has collapsed by $2,100 in real terms for per family during this current recovery. and while the pace of job creation has picked up recently, there are still 5.5 million fewer private-sector jobs in this recovery than the archl -- average of past recoveries. in addition, the labor force participation rate, the percentage of working-age americans who have a job or are looking for a job has fallen to 35 years low. what this means is that the reduction in the unemployment rate over the past year is at
least partially the result of many americans giving up on looking for work. this contrary to what our president said in his state of the union address, is not something to be proud of. so we must ask ourselves why is this recovery so different? what does the future economic situation look like for the average american family? in our republican joint economic response, we find that these questions are addressed partly by the historic factors identified in the president's report. for instance, there is mutual concern about the labor market scars that remain in the aftermath of the recent recession as well as the challenges to restoring a more productive and participatory workforce. where we differ with the president is on how to best address these problems and what policies we can offer that will return us to, at a minimum the
average of past recoveries. we're not asking for the moon here. although we would like to see growth exceed that average of the past, we're simply saying what policies do we need to enact just to get average back to the average recovery. and we're half of that, as i said. we differ with the president on how best to address these problems and what policies we can offer that will return us, as i said, at a minimum, to the average of past recoveries. unfortunately, we found that many of the recommendations put forth in the president's report would not deliver the benefits that the administration projects. for instance, the administration's proposal to increase the minimum wage would result in reduced job opportunities. that has been documented over and over and over in testimony before our committee analysts, economists who have looked at this. it freezes out those seeking entry-level jobs, the start the
foot in the door, the ability to show that you can come to work and do a good day's work and arrive on time and don't leave before your time ends. you can be a productive person, and up the ladder they go. that entry level is killed when you raise the minimum wage beyond what the market calls for. then you end up losing a lot of small businesses that provide those entry-level jobs or you end up hiring on a part-time basis to avoid that result. additionally the economic report of the president insufficiently addresses the challenges we face in terms of improving the american economy improving economic mobility, preparing students in the workforce, enacting progrowth policies and addressing our long-term fiscal challenges. and allow me, if i could to discuss these items in greater detail. let's look at economic mobility. for example; while the administration continues to
press income inequality as an issue, when it would be better to focus on policies that improve economic mobility. economic mobility is far more important for americans as they move through different stages of life, from making less income after graduation to starting the process of building a career, building a resume, to building up earnings through a career experience and establishing families to accumulate savings for retirement and other goals that all of us have gone through and many are going through and many hope to go through as they look forward to meaningful work in the future. despite good intentions, president obama continues to pursue policies that impede job growth and real economic growth. this restrains economic -- constrains excuse me -- economic mobility. nearly six years now into the current recovery, americans are only just beginning to see signs of significant income growth and
income growth feeds into upward economic mobility. my hope and our hope is this growth will continue to strengthen in the coming years but we need a change of policies from this administration if this is going to happen. let's look at education reform. we also differ with the president in the area of this, of education reform. it's becoming increasingly clear that traditional solutions no longer work in today's labor market. the connection between education and jobs is fractured and repairing this connection requires collaboration with employers who know what skills their workers need. education remains an area ripe for reform. yet, the obama administration has preferred to promote the idea of making community college free rather than focus on the existing education deficits experienced by so many students across the country. many low-income americans are
already able to receive a community college education for free if they're eligible for pell grants. but the real question here is what kind of curriculum will they be taking as they enter the education process? and to simply go into a system that is not coordinating cooperating with the private industry in terms of the skills needed for them to grow and to have the skills needed to join that particular means of production is, sadly lacking in the president's proposals. today many of the classes offered at community colleges are remedial they're compensating for deficits in education at the high school level. many students find themselves unprepared for even the most basic postsecondary courses at the community college and university levels, let alone for skill jobs that offer good pay. and until we address this
fundamental foundational underpinning in terms of how to receive the right education, we have to address these questions rather than just simply say oh, everybody go, don't worry the government, the taxpayer will pay for your tuition. take whatever courses you want. that simply is not the model. in indiana, we have a consolidated model now working with private industry at our two-year colleges that is producing terrific results because we're matching the needs for the skills needed with the curriculum and teaching that provides those needs. for these students, finding a good job remains a challenge as does our ability to address those in this category who have given up looking for a job. and that takes us to the labor participation rate. the labor force participation rate for those aged 20 to 29 is more than 4% lower now than in 2007. and the lower that goes, the easier it is to achieve an
unemployment number that sounds good but really is false because the factor of labor participation is skewing the results. furthermore, for those who find a job in that to-29 category, the federal reserve board survey of young work i.r.s. -- workers report only 20% of those find jobs closely related to their field of study. they need to be better invested so they can enter the workforce truly equipped and without needless delay and countless dollars spent on a degree that leaves them jobless. this is a major challenge to our education system and the president's proposal falls far short of the reforms needed to address these challenges. let's look at growth and productivity absolutely essential if we're going to have a growing economy and provide more jobs for more people.
as it stands, the united states today -- the united states remains one of the most productive economies in the world. we can treasure that. we can celebrate that. however, much concern remains about whether america will be able to sustain that productive why i of which it -- productivity of which it proved capable over the last half century, but there's a real question today as to whether that can be sustained. business creation, entrepreneurship and technological innovations have slowed over the past decade alarmingly and if these trends prove to be more than temporary they then will have negative consequences for america's standard of living. productivity and labor force participation growth alone cannot address the federal spending problems that have been years in the making. it appears that the administration has not stopped to consider the effects of existing regulations in government policies. obamacare's f.x. on labor force
participation and hours worked continue to drive down productivety. economist casey mulligan indicates that if fully implemented by 2017, obamacare's long-term effect will translate to roughly 3% less in weekly employment. 3% fewer total hours worked and 2% less in labor income. that is not how you boost productivity. that is a killer of increase in productivity. nonetheless, the obama administration prefers to add more spending programs to the existing structure in an attempt to counter balance the current disincentives to work. in contrast, we republicans on the committee believe aggressive action on progrowth policies will improve future economic -- the future economic situation of american families. as we detail our report to congress, there are three areas
of immediate opportunity to kick start our economy and provide for the sustained growth needed to address the current fiscal and economic growth challenges we face need to be implemented. one, comprehensive tax reform. two, implementation of foreign trade agreements. and three regulatory relief. let's take those three in a little deeper discussion here. tax reform. it's unquestionable that the need for comprehensive pro-growth tax reform could not be clearer. there is admission on both sides of the aisle in this chamber. republicans and democrats that we have gone far too long in terms of dealing with tax reform of our current taxation system. the administration and members of congress in both parties agree that it's broken. it is loaded with so many
exemptions exclusions, subsidies, credits, special interest provisions, rules and regulations it's incomprehensible to fathom the complexity of this current system and it's hurting our economy. for example the united states corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world. if american businesses are going to be able to compete in a global market, it has to be significantly lower. there is consent on this. the president has acknowledged that this is needed and that this is the case, and yet we see little if any policy coming forward, direct policy coming forward from the white house and from our democrat friends as to whether or not we should go forward to that. i am hopeful that the ways and means committee in the house and the finance committee in the senate of which i am a member will take this seriously and will address this issue in a comprehensive way.
but fortunately, the president's framework may not lead to the desired goals of productivity and other economic gains because with a tax code of four million words and compliance costs to american families and businesses equaling $168 billion a year, it's not surprising that nine out of ten americans turn to a paid preparer or computer software to calculate their tax burden. six billion hours are spent every year by americans simply trying to figure out their tax return or get their tax return taken care of and an extraordinary amount of money is spent on having someone else prepare that return because it's simply incomprehensible for most americans to address. pro-growth tax reform would simplify the tax code for individuals and families, reduce the corporate rate, lower individual rates paid by small businesses and make our international tax system more competitive in the global
market. by comparison, the administration suggested 28% corporate tax rate and hybrid territorial and worldwide tax system would still place the united states among the highest global tax rates and still continue to put american businesses at a competitive disadvantage. let's look at trade. another area of agreement between congress and the administration so-called is the pursuit of more trade opportunities. president obama's national export initiative is aimed to increase the level of exports to $3.14 trillion before 2015 in order to support up to two million jobs, but it fell far short of that goal. the opportunity to improve g.d.p. growth is available now pending the administration's efforts to secure trade promotion authority to finalize new trade agreements. now, during the state of the union address one of the few topics that brought republicans to their feet with cheering was
was -- in support was the president's call for trade promotion authority. yet, it appears -- and i remain concerned that the president and the administration are not really working hard enough and putting the pressure on their own party members to secure the necessary support of congress to achieve this much-needed result. the president should fully engage with congress to ensure passage of trade promotion authority. this is a necessary policy if we are to get the kind of economic growth that we need. with these trade agreements, we could expand market access for american goods and services and improve the economic well-being of americans and citizens in our trade partner countries. regulatory burden. we have to stem the rising tide of regulatory red tape. according to the u.s. small business administration, the cost of complying with federal regulations exceeds $1.75 trillion every year for
u.s. businesses, and it disproportionately affects small businesses. this amounts to more than $10,500 per american worker. and furthermore the administration has launched an aggressive assault on fossil fuels in the low-cost electricity that they provide. in addition to the e.p.a.'s harmful carbon regulations the administration has unleashed more than a dozen rules aimed at eliminating coal-fired plants in the united states. we cannot neglect the costs and effects of new major regulations under obamacare and dodd-frank that continue to subdue business investment and job growth. taken individually, each burdensome regulation increases costs to american families and slows economic growth. taken collectively, these regulations hang as a giant albatross around the necks of working people in american businesses both large and small.
to reduce excessive regulations federal agencies need to review and remove outdated and ineffective rules and should more fully evaluate the costs and benefits of any new proposed rules. mr. president, i'd like to turn now to the long-term effects and fiscal health that is a challenge to all each and every one of us. i have spoken at some length about this recent recovery and our report's findings in addition to working to improve the recovery in the short term, but we must also address the greatest threat to a successful economic america our long-term fiscal health. earlier this year, the nonpartisan congressional budget office issued its updated budget and economic outlook for the next decade. the report warned that under current law if we just stay where we are don't make adjustments, under current law -- and i quote -- large and
growing federal debt, we'll have serious negative consequences, including increasing federal spending for interest payments, restraining economic growth in the long term, giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges and eventually heightening the risk of a fiscal crisis. federal reserve chairman yell insaid essentially the -- yellen said essentially the same thing when she appeared last year before the joint economic committee. her answer highlighted why the long-term deficits washington currently is projected to run must be addressed. i made that question to chairman yellen chairman of the fed and this was her answer, and i quote -- "there is more work to do to put fiscal policy on a sustainable course. progress has been made over the last several years in bringing down deficits in the short term,
but through a administration of demographics the structure of entitlement programs and historic trends in health care costs, we can see that over the long term, deficits will rise to unsustainable levels relative to the economy. with these comments, the fed chairwoman joined a long list of academics and economists and business leaders who have all stated the obvious -- unless the united states makes politically difficult but absolutely necessary spending choices in the near term, eventually we're going to face a debt-induced crisis in the future. it's only a matter of time. the clock is running down. we continue to postpone the evermore necessary policy changes that will help us avoid a fiscal crisis. it's there for everybody to see.
that clock has been running now for tens of years. republican presidents and democrat presidents have watched this go -- grow deficit spending and national debt plunge into national debt at a staggering rate. the consequences will come home to roost and they will affect not only our own generation but in particular our children's generation and our grandchildren's generation and generations to come if we don't address this. in fact, if interest rates are not artificially held down by the fed at historically low levels we might already be facing our day of reckoning. according to the congressional budget office, even a 1 percentage point increase in interest rates would add $1.7 trillion to the united states deficits over a ten-year period of time. that's just a 1% increase in
interest rates. if we go back to average, we will be looking at a 3% or 4% or maybe even a 5% interest rate level. each one would cost us $1.7 trillion over a ten-year period of time, and that new debt would occur without any changes in spending or taxing. interest rates alone would simply drive our debt out of control. it is a ticking time bomb, a fiscal ticking time bomb that must be addressed. while the administration is taking credit for the current reduction in our annual deficit overall debt has increased dramatically under president obama from $10.6 trillion to almost $18.2 trillion, just during his term of office. and they brag about making progress? yes, the deficit is smaller than it was in the early years of the obama administration, but it's still a half a trillion dollars
a year deficit and it's going to spike dramatically within two years, according to the congressional budget office. what a bag of misery turned over to the next -- to the next president. in addition, the reduction in our budget deficits is only temporary, as i have just said, because the conclusion of the congressional budget office is that this will spike in 2017 and publicly held debt as a percentage of g.d.p. will rise in the coming decade. yet c.b.o.'s projections in publicly held debt over the next decade don't tell the whole story. the debt will continue to climb to unsustainable levels over the next three decades. 30 years of climbing into ever more debt. and by the end of that time, we will owe our creditors more than our entire economy produces in one year. let me say that again.
at the end of this period, the next three decades, we will owe our creditors more than our entire economy is worth and presents. what a gift to our children. thanks a lot. thanks for ignoring doing what you needed to do. why couldn't you -- you saw it coming. you talked about it on the floor of the senate. everybody saw what was happening and no one had the will to stand up or too few had the will to stand up and do something about it. it's reckless policy. it's dangerous. we have an obligation to the american people. we have a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren and the grandchildren and children of everyone in america to address this and to act responsibly. there have been several bipartisan attempts, both in congress and by outside groups,
to address this ticking time bomb. groups like fix the debt, the business roundtable, the domenici-revlin effort. all tried to develop bipartisan solutions and present them. they did present them to us and it's clear for everyone to see. official government efforts were undertaken. simpson-bowles. the gang of six. a super committee resulting from the budget control act. and the dinner club of senators which i participated in that met directly with the president and his senior advisors. unfortunately, all of these efforts, all of the effort put into this, all of the alarms that were ringing all of this came to naught, failure to reach agreement. i am particularly disappointed with the failure of the final effort which began with senators and the white house seeking to go big and ultimately getting to the point where it was hardly worth putting anything in place even when we took the president's own recommendations and sent them to him for
approval, it was rejected. despite the inability to reach agreements in the past, we must not give up. my colleagues, we must not give up. we must continue to focus on this greatest fiscal threat, perhaps in the history of our country. it is something that we have a moral responsibility to tackle, a moral responsibility to put our future careers in jeopardy by making the right choices. you know what? i think if we did that, the american people are wise enough to know now that that would be rewarded rather than condemned that we would receive support for our future interest in elected office rather than rejection. the country understands maybe more or at least reacts to maybe more than we in this body do because year after year after year we continue to fail to do what we all know we need to do.
despite, however the inability to reach agreements in the past, as i said, we should not give up. the administration and the congress must make tough choices now so future generations will have an opportunity to reich their potential and not be saddled with even higher burden of debt. we must make smart reforms to our mandatory spending programs to tackle out-of-control federal spending. congress should also pass sensible policies that will create jobs and grow the economy. this is our priority and this is what we need to do. let me just conclude now by talking about the republican budget plan that we have begun to debate and will be with debating this week offering amendments and ultimately voting on by the end of the week. we know job creators and future entrepreneurs see today's debt levels as tomorrow's tax hikes. we must lift the cloud of
uncertainty hanging over our economy and this is the first becoming we have debated on the senate floor in two years. this is a budget plan so vital to the future of our economy and the future of america. we have focused and that has hurt america. americans need to know what is coming and what to expect. we need to move the u.n. of off of the word uncertainty so businesses owners, business owners families everyone engaged in this economy knows what the rules are what's coming and has a clear picture of where we stand even if there are areas they're in disagreement with. they need to know more importantly the federal government is carefully managing its spending and revenues. every american female and business must have a budget and live within their means and it's about time washington does the same. so i'm pleased to be here talking about this republican budget resolution that was led
by the senator from wyoming and many of us who participated, i'm not on that economy but i commend them -- committee but i commend them for the work they've done and bringing forth a budget for us to debate, amend, and pass and live by. no budget can be perfect given the economic distortions we are currently living with but nevertheless we need to solve some of our fiscal challenges, and this budget takes several important steps to putting our country back on the right fiscal track. most importantly most importantly, this budget resolution balances the budget over ten years. we must stop spending more than we take in. we must move toward a balanced budget. i've long been a proponent of a constitutional amendment to require us to do this. as is done in many of our states. got to live up to the
responsibilities of your oath to the constitution to not spend more than you take in. we do that in indiana and we have a successful economy and a successful legislature that has made that the case. but it's severely and sorely lacking here in washington. in contrast to the republican budget, the president's budget does not come close to balancing. in fact, for all the administration's praise of the short-term reductions in the annual deficit, the president's budget predicts increases in deficits starting in 2018 -- yes, somebody else is going -- going to dump it in somebody else's lap -- starting in 2018 and an $800 billion deficit in 2025. our republican budget helps address this issue of underfunding the department of defense, it boosts defense spending by a necessary amount of money above the president's request because along with the
debt bomb we have a terrorist bomb the potential of marrying terrorists with weapons of mass destruction and a strong america, a strong military is absolutely necessary to address the threats that we see burgeoning all over the world today. and so our budget addresses this specific question and strengthens our national defense. it helps preserve our safety net programs. it does not change social security. yet it will benefit social security by shoring up our broader finances and achieving stronger economic growth and increased employment. in addition, the budget extends the solvency of the trust fund by five years by calling for the same level of savings called for by the president. let me be clear. our budget doesn't call for the same policies as the president. we would instead achieve these savings through policies based on free market principles. the budget also seeks to improve
the medicaid program by increasing state flexibility and it seeks to help economic growth by promoting several pro-growth policies, including tax reform, reducing the impact of federal regulations promoting free trade investing in infrastructure and enhancing u.s. energy security. and finally the republican budget provides the means for addressing the flawed, confusing, distorted tax-laden policy of obamacare. the repeal of obamacare provides flexibility to replace this disastrous law with health care solutions that bring down the cost of care and protect the vulnerable. let me conclude by saying and reiterating what this senate budget resolution accomplishes. balances the budget in ten years ensures flexibility for funding national defense. provides repeal and replacement of obamacare. protects americans from new tax hikes. and preserves social security.
extends medicare trust solvency improves medicaid, supports stronger economic growth and enhances u.s. energy security. i'm proud that my senate colleagues have drafted a plan to return our spending to a sustainable path toward a balanced budget. and i'm hopeful this is the beginning of responsible action and look forward to debate on and passage of the republican budget this week. again, i commend the chairman and his committee for bringing forth a budget that is sorely needed that will give americans a clear picture of a different path than this administration has proposed. and with that mr. chairman, -- madam chairman, i yield the floor.
mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that on monday, march 23 at 5:30 p.m. the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following knocks, calendar number 19, that the senate then vote without intervening action or debate on the nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table that no further motions be in order that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, the president be immediately notified of the senate's actions and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president writing and passing a budget is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of any legislative body. unfortunately, it's something we haven't done here in the united states senate, the united states congress, since 2009.
it is outrageous, it should be considered a scandal. but today i want to take a few minutes to discuss the budget we have before us today and how we intend to discharge our responsibilities to the american people in the 114th congress. of course, one of the most important parts of a budget is you have to determine what your priorities are. things you have to have, things you want, maybe but need to defer, and things that you want but maybe you can't afford. when it comes to the budget that chairman enzi and the senate budget committee have produced, our priority is clear. our priority is to protect the hardworking taxpayers of this country. so where do we start and how does the senate republican budget get america on the right track, boosting economic growth and job creation? well to start with, this
budget actually balances. it balances. and puts us on the path to beginning to pay down our national debt. and it's important to say that it does so without raising taxes. those seem like pretty straightforward goals for any budget but, unfortunately, that has not been the case in recent years. throughout his six years in office and in the budgets he has sent to congress, president obama seems to be committed to the notion that the only way washington can revive strong economic growth is by steadily growing the government. unfortunately, at the same time you end up adding to deficits and debt in the process. yes, it's true that we have had an experiment in the size and role of government over the last six years and i must say, we are no longer talking about
esoteric theories the that were debated say in the federalist papers or the founding of our country. we now have hard evidence. we have things we can point to to show that this has been a failed experiment. under this administration our national debt, the bills not that i will have to pay but that these young people will have to pay, and my children, our debt has gone from $10.6 trillion to more than $18 trillion. i know those numbers are almost meaningless to most of us because we simply can't conceive of numbers that big. the latest budget from the president though, adds another trillion in tax increases and never balances. ever. in fact, while the budget voted out of the budget committee that's now before us here on the floor of the senate actually brings us to surplus and the president's budget would leave our country with a massive
deficit of over $800 billion in its final year. the last budget proposed by our friends across the aisle senate democrats in 2013, would have hit the economy with another $1 trillion in taxes and added more than $7 trillion to our national debt. i believe based on the failed experiment of the last few years, we should conclude that just taxing and spending is not going to allow us to achieve the kind of prosperity and economic growth that we all so badly want. america's debt is a real danger one that apparently the president just doesn't -- chooses to ignore and our friends across the aisle in their budget proposals they seem to ignore it as well. the reason our debt is so dangerous is because it makes us vulnerable to fiscal shocks and shocks to our national
security and make it much harder for us to respond to them. and our debt obviously costs money to service. we need to pay interest to the people who buy our bonds our national debt, and when interest rates go back up from where they are now which is a historically low rate, more and more of the hard-earned tax dollars that the american people will be paying to the federal government will be used not to pay down the debt but will be used to pay interest on the debt to the people who own it. countries like china and other sovereign -- sovereign entities that purchase that debt, and others. we'll be paying interest on that debt in a way that makes us dangerously vulnerable to fiscal shock but also crowds out our ability to deal with our other priorities things like law enforcement, education national security, and the like. congressional budget office last year pointed out that the in the
past few years debt held by the public will be significantly greater relative to the gross domestic product than at any time just after world war ii. our debt will be higher relative to our economy than at any time since world war ii. so what does that mean to my fellow texans? well the c.b.o. goes on to say with the debt so large, federal spending on interest payments will increase substantially as interest rates rise to more typical levels. that's what i just was referring to. but it's another thing that happens, is that as the federal government -- as its debt goes up we basically reduce national savings at the same time and capital stock and wages will be smaller. in other words our massive national debt is hurting economic growth today it's hurting our economy and it virtually assures that it will
get worse in the days ahead. the good news is, it doesn't have to be that way and this budget puts us on a path to balance and one that begins to pay down the debt, not adding to the debt with more taxing and spending along the way. and the good news is we don't really have to start from scratch, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. their better options many of which are reflected in the budget that we have proposed and that we'll be voting on this week. policies and programs that we've border from proven -- borrowed. my state has seen an economic surge in job creation and exports, ranked as the best state in the nation for business ten years running. some people have called this the texas miracle but i actually take issue with that characterization.
there is nothing miraculous about what has happened in texas when we talk about the economy. because you can't explain a miracle, but it's no secret why texas has been one of the leading job creation engines over the last several years. if you -- if you ask business leaders they'll tell what makes texas such an attractive place to do business. we should not punish job creators with taxes that discourage investment and overregulation which make it hard to make the bottom line balance. we're not ashamed of our abundance of natural resources nor are we apologetic about encouraging its development. and the results have been extraordinary. for example texas added nearly 460,000 jobs in 2014 alone. 460,000 jobs in 2014, more than any other state. and despite being home to about
8.5% of the total u.s. population texas accounted for nearly one-third of all new job gains during the last ten years for the nation. sumly put what -- simply put what we've shown is what can be accomplished with sound public policy a louse for job creation and -- allows for job creation and economic prosperity. that's the good news. it is not a fluke. it is not a miracle. it is about good policies actually working to benefit the people of my state and that could also be put to work for the american people. we can take strategies that have worked in the states an lessons we've -- and lessons we've learned and apply them here in washington for the benefit of the entire nation. simply put it boils disown down to lower taxes and a lower level of per capita government spending. what happens under those
conditions is that the private sector is willing to invest, and when they invest, they create jobs and grow the economy and we all benefit including the government by increased tax revenue. government doesn't benefit nor do the people benefit when government policies discourage investment and job creation and economic growth, but that's what's been happening in the last few years. in the budget before us, which balances without tax hikes, we can protect taxpayers and foster an economic environment that allows jobs and opportunity to blossom. gallup released a survey earlier this month that talked about the biggest concerns facing the american people, ans the top concern was -- and the top concern was government. they were concerned about their government. the second was the economy and the third was jobs. all three of those concerns
actually tie neatly together because many americans now feel they don't have the same opportunities that they once had. maybe they've been laid off or had a tough time finding a new job that's as rewarding for them personally and financially. maybe they're tooley working as hard -- maybe they're actually working hassard as they ever -- working as hard as they ever did. if you're dupely concerned about the availability of good jobs, it only makes sense that you would not be satisfied with the government as well. and these concerns transcend geographic partisan, and demographic boundaries, and they're shared by republicans democrats, independents, alike. sadly, one of the statistics that hasn't gotten better over the last few years even though the unemployment rate has crept down it's the percentage of the
american people, workforce who've actually left the job market and given up looking for a job and that remains at a near historical high, about a 30-year high, the so-called labor participation rate. so when the unemployment rate goes down and we say oh, that's a good thing a lot of the reason it's going down is because fewer and fewer people are actually looking for work, and they've dropped out altogether. that's a bad thing. while most people don't see themselves as future business oamps, they hope to find a good job that provides them with thability to put food on the table and take care of their families and gives them a sense of of satisfaction for a job well-done. yet as we know, small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and it is the small businesses that actually help create the jobs that most hardworking taxpayers are occupied in. and so if we're making it harder for the small businesses to
create the jobs, we're also making it harder on workers to find jobs. as i travel my state and talk to small businessmen and women they tell me that one of the biggest challenges they've had is something that the president trumpets here in washington as a grand success and that is obamacare. because obamacare has been a job killer. this budget assumes full repeal of obamacare and it gives us the opportunity to make good on our promises and finally remove one of the biggest roadblocks to job growth. is that because we don't care about health care? well no, exactly the opposite. what we intend to do as a replacement is to replace obamacare with affordable health care that provides people access to the kind of quality care that they want for themselves and their family. the irony of obamacare is that
it spends -- it taxes so much and yet still 30 million people are out of -- are uninsured. many people find that the health insurance they purchase, even on the exchanges has high premiums which basically render them uninsured to the extent that they can't even afford it, and it's raised their premium cost by adding to mandates for coverage they don't want and they don't need. so we can do much better. now, i've heard the president and some of his allies say well, we have to have obamacare because we need to cover the young adults up to the age of 26 who can be covered under their parents' policy. or we need obamacare because we need to cover people with preexisting conditions. well the fact of the matter is, you can do both of those things. we will do both of those things and we don't need everything else that comes with it.
we also need to capitalize on an energy boom that is taking place across the united states. this budget boosts development of american-made energy. unfortunately, the president decided to put his party and his political -- his politics ahead of american job seek irrelevance recently when he visa -- seekers recently when he vetoed a bipartisan bill to construct the keystone x.l. pipeline that the state department said would create 42,000 construction jobs to start with and a number of other jobs thereafter, and it would also provide an alternative means to transport oil from a friendly ally like kaen did and we wouldn't have -- canada and we wouldn't have to ship so much of it in railcars over the surface, which is admittedly a much more dangerous and volatile situation. well the president when he vetoed the keystone x.l. pipeline took basically the opposite approach to what we've taken in my state and other
states around the country where we've seen our natural resources and the development of those natural resources as a way to grow jobs and to grow the economy. in texas we produce more oil -- 94% more oil between september 2008 and september 2012. now, this has been primarily due to the innovation of the oil and gas industry and the so-called shale gas o.i.c. revolution, which -- oil and gas revolution, which would transform states like north dakota and mine in texas and places like pennsylvania where the marcellus shale exists. but the eagle ford, the barnett and hanes ford shale places have been an economic boon to my state and created thousands of jobs. as my friends along the border of texas and mexico remind me,
those natural resources do not stop at the international border. indeed, i was recently in mexico city with my colleague -- our colleague senator kaine of virginia where we met with a number of oil and gas company representatives at the american chamber of commerce there in mexico city talking about the change in the mexican law which now will encourage private investment in developing their natural resources in mexico, and of course the better the mexican economy does the better our economy does, and the fewer people who feel like they have to emigrate to the united states just in order to provide for their family. so madam president this budget is a responsible budget. it balances in ten years. it doesn't raise taxes. and it begins a down payment on our national debt. it sends a very important
message that the 114th congress and the new majority are very serious about discharging the most basic responsibilities of governance, something that hasn't been done since 2009, since the last time we had a budget. but we also learn from the states when it comes to protecting taxpayers and removing barriers to growth and how that helps not only the small businesses but the people who work at the jobs created by those small businesses. i would just say in conclusion, madam president that one other thing this budget does, we know that since the budget control act of 2011 and the sequestration that occurred, the automatic caps on spending that occurred as a result of the failure of the super-committee to come up with a grand bargain that our nation has spent less and less on our national security and that has given
rise not only to deep concerns by many of us, including the presiding officer about america's role in the world and the message we're sending to our adversaries but it also raises the question of what is the primary purpose -- what should be the number-one priority of the federal government? i believe and i think many of us believe that national security is the most important priority of the federal government. we've kind of lost sight of that in recent years with the budget caps and sequestration. we've tried to be responsible about spending and unfortunately, with an unhelpful pattern in the white house -- partner in the white house sequestration seemed to be the only way that we could keep a brake on runaway discretionary spending higher deficits and greater debt. but i think now is the time for this copping to step up -- this congress to step up and say nationalnational security is our
number-one priority. this budget does just that, and it provides additional resources necessary for the department of defense to make sure that we not only are main -- maintain our status as the prey eminent military morning hour in the world but also keep our commitment to our military families and those who have chosen to make the armed services a career. we also send a very important message to our adversaries that america will not shrink or retreat from its leadership role on the world stage. unfortunately, i think, as a result of not only our budgetary disikses but also a -- decisions but also a number of mis-sties and missed signals by the administration some of our adversaries have gotten the idea that we are in retreat and that we are somehow pulling back and going to be rendered a spectator rather than a leader on the world stage. this budget, perhaps the
single-most important thing it does is says america is back as the leader of the free world and we will not shrink and we will not turn our back on our responsibility not only to ourselves and our people but to our friends and allies across the world. madam president i yield the floor. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. erthe presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call: mr. sanders: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call ... i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president in a moment i'm going to yield to senator mccain. but before i do that, i just wanted to make a few points
based on the remarks of my friend from texas senator cornyn. senator cornyn talked about military spending and how much we should spend on the military is a very important debate. we now spend more money than the next nine countries combined. but as we talk about the deficit and the debt, i would remind my colleagues and the american people that one of the reasons that our national debt is at $18 trillion and one of the reasons that our deficit is as high as it is is that under president bush, we went to war in iraq and we went to war in afghanistan and we put those wars on the credit card. we didn't pay for them. didn't pay for them. on thursday at the senate budget committee meeting an amendment was passed to add another $38
billion to defense spending added to the deficit. so i kind of have a little bit of a problem understanding all of my republican friends coming down here and saying we're really concerned about the deficit and the debt. we're going to have to cut back on head start. we're going to have to cut back on health care. we're going to have to cut back on meals on wheels programs for seniors. we're going to have to cut back on pell grants, making it harder for young people to be able to go to college. we just can't afford those things anymore because the deficit is so high. but when it comes to military spending we don't have to worry about the deficit at all. so i've got a real problem with that and i suspect that within the next couple of days there will be an amendment on the floor which makes it very clear that if people want to go into another war -- and i certainly hope we do not go into another
war. i think two wars is quite enough. but if people want to vote for another war they're going to have to pay for that war and not pass that debt on to our kids and our grandchildren. and with that, madam president i would yield the floor to the senator from virginia, senator kaine. mr. kaine: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: thank you madam president. i thank my colleague from vermont who has done an able job as the ranking member on the budget committee. and i rise today to talk about the budget resolution that we will consider on the floor of the senate later this week. i came to the senate in 2013 with background as a mayor and governor. i believe in getting budgets done and getting them done on time. doing budgets under regular order is an important priority, and i have enjoyed and look forward to more work with colleagues on budgeting matters. quickly we have been in a budget crisis of our own making in congress.
it's not someone else's fault. it's not the president's fault. the budget crisis that we've been in has been of congress's making. in august of 2011, when one house pushed the country to the verge of defaulting on our debt for the first time in our history, in order to not default we came up with the idea of the sequester. this was before i was in the senate. but the basic idea was let's impose punishing across-the-board cuts and all these federal spending levels to begin in march of 2013 to force us to try to come up with a better deal. i call that a let's try to do something good, and if we don't then let's do something really stupid. i don't know that that's a principle that you should ever apply. and when i came into the senate on the verge of sequester going into effect, my first floor speech as a senator and one of my first votes was we didn't find the senate deal that we
wanted but let's not do something stupid. let's not embrace the sequester and hurt priorities that matter to people every day. sadly, we couldn't get 60 votes to turn off the sequester in the senate and so beginning march 1, 2013, we had been in sequester mode. i had said in committee and i'll say again the sequester violates every principle of good budgeting that i have learned as either a public-sector budgeter, as a mayor and governor, or as a private-sector budgeter managing a multinational law firm with lawyers on three continents. nobody would do budgeting this way. the united states, because of congress is doing budgeting this way. and i think we need to come up with a better solution. during the last congress we did find a better solution. it wasn't a perfect solution but the murray-ryan budget act did a two-year budgetary framework that eliminated half of these punishing sequester cuts and
gave significant lift to the economy. the economy has generally been pretty strong. cutting deficits but also avoiding some of the mindless austerity that full sequester means. a good budget for the country -- and i'm sad to say that the budget that we'll be debating on the floor this week is not a good budget for the country. but a good budget for the country would do a couple of things. it would put the promotion of growth and jobs first. best antideficit strategy, if that's what you are interested in, is promoting a strong economy and job growth. that would be the first priority. second, we would replace a mindless across-the-board sequester with a more targeted approach. and if we did that, we could credibly reduce deficits rather than reducing deficits in a way that hurts the economy and punishes programs that matter to people. on the economy and jobs side, we will grow the economy and growing jobs, if we did things like moving away from unnecessary austerity and promoting infrastructure.
my colleague from vermont has a strong proposal about infrastructure that we debated in committee and will be debating this week. if you did infrastructure and other investments in human capital, you could credibly reduce sequester and increase jobs. we could also increase jobs if we did a tax reform that didn't punish work, that didn't punish labor, wages salary in a way that our current tax reform does. the second priority of a good budget would be to restore key spending priorities and replace sequester with a targeted approach. we should be focusing on a budget that maintains a strong national defense keeps our promises to veterans, invests in education, especially important programs like head start pre-k college affordability. we can protect federal employees. we can protect programs for people of low and moderate income such as snap or pell grants. and we can ensure the environment is protected if we follow targeted strategies that would be better. and finally doing these
growing the economy and targeted strategies would enable us to credibly reduce the deficit. and it is important to note that the deficit has been coming down since the murray-ryan budget deal was done, and that's important. but that's not the budget that will be on the floor this week. last thursday we voted on a budget out of committee. it was a long day of debating and voting. i was able to support a number of amendments, had some of my own and others that were passed, and i appreciate them. but i ultimately voted against the budget. and unless there would be dramatic changes on the floor of this senate, i will be in all likelihood voting against the budget for the following reasons: first the budget before us proposes cuts to discretionary programs: education, infrastructure, research the non-defense noninterest, nonentitlement programs that are about 16% to 17% of the federal budget. it proposes not just cutting those to full sequester level but cutting them by an additional $236 billion over ten
years. even the sequester levels are untenable. slashing these programs even further to make college more expensive, to spend less on infrastructure, to spend less on research is foolish for the nation. the budget proposes $4 trillion in unspecified cuts to programs like medicare and medicaid, but only includes a budget reconciliation instruction totaling $2 billion which leaves a very unusual gap in terms of how are we going to find magically these $4 trillion of cuts. the budget depends on gimmicks and sort of magic tricks to achieve balance when we're not really achieving balance. it uses outdated baseline proposals by the c.b.o. we just had c.b.o. numbers come in in january from the nonpartisan congressional budget office showing that the country is, because of an improving economy, poised to collect more revenue and poised to spend less on some key programs.
that nephewsing that baseline data -- nephewsing that baseline data the march data, they used data to make the situation seem more dire than it is. i don't know why we would do this. we should use the most updated numbers. finally i voted against the budget because it contains a critical dishonesty. it proposed to do two things simultaneously that violate basic laws of physics and the two things are this. we're going to entirely repeal the affordable care act. however, all the taxes that we're collecting from people and companies to pay for the affordable care act we're going to keep all of those in the budget. so we will repeal all of the benefits, all of the coverage, all of the protection that tens of millions of americans get under the affordable care act but we will keep taxing people and companies and keep all that tax revenue in the budget. clearly both of those things are not going to happen, and so the
budget has this air of unreality about it. but to me, the unreality on the numbers is dwarfed in importance by the flat statement of we're going to repeal the affordable care act. there are many things i can say about the affordable care act. why don't i just pick one. 16.4 million americans are receiving insurance coverage under the affordable care act. what does this budget say will happen to those 16.4 million americans? the budget doesn't say. it has no plan for providing that they will be able to have health insurance. taking away health insurance from 16.4 million americans many of whom have it for the first time in their lives is no small thing. that number, big number. sometimes big numbers just sound like big numbers. let me put it in context. how many americans are 16.4
million people? 16.4 million people with health insurance is the entire combined population of wyoming, of the district of columbia, of vermont, of north dakota, alaska and south dakota, of delaware montana and rhode island, of new hampshire maine and hawaii, of idaho nebraska and west virginia. this is 15 states and the district of columbia. the entire combined population from birth to death in those 16 jurisdictions, that's what 16.4 million american people are. and what this budget proposes is to reach in and strip away health insurance from every last one of those 16.4 million people. without a proposal, without a
plan without even any indication of how we would tackle this problem. i refuse to be part of that. i refuse to contemplate voting for that. i've had too much experience with people who don't have health insurance to willingly push people back into the shadows when they have had health insurance for the first time in their life. madam president, i know you understand this. we all do. health insurance is about two things. it's about health, but it's also about assurance. so if you're sick, if you're in an accident, if your wife is in an accident, if your kids are sick you've got to have this so that you can receive health care so that you can receive treatment. but when you're not sick and when you haven't been in an accident you still go to bed worrying about what will happen to your children if they get into an accident. what will happen to your wife if
she gets ill. even when you're healthy the absence of health insurance imposes an anxiety especially on parents, that is very, very severe. and so i will not be part of a budget that tells 16.4 million people the combined population of 16 states and the district of columbia that while you may have had this insurance for the first time in your life, we are now going to take it away from you without a plan to help you have the assurance and the peace of mind and the protection of your health that you have under existing law. we should not step backwards. we should always step forwards. can we find improvements? of course we can. but we shouldn't step backwards. so madam president, that's why i voted against the budget in committee, and that's why i am likely absent major change, to vote against it on the floor. with that, i appreciate it, and i yield my time back.
mr. sanders: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i want to thank senator kaine for his outstanding work on the committee and for his very cogent remarks. in the republican budget, we don't have to talk about protecting absurd loopholes for large corporations and for the wealthiest people in this country. we don't have to talk about significant cuts in head start making it harder for working families to send their kids to that very important program. we don't have to talk about cuts in the pell grant program some $90 billion of mandatory funding making it harder for working families to send their kids to college. we don't have to talk about raising taxes on working families by allowing the earned income tax credit and the children's tax credit to expire. we don't have to talk about that. all we have to do is to hear what senator kaine just said.
does anybody in america think it makes sense to tell 16 million men, women and children who today have health insurance some for the first time in their lives, that they're going to lose that health insurance? but, by the way we'll continue to collect the taxes from the affordable care act. does anyone take that proposal seriously? throwing 16 million people off of health insurance the equivalent of the 15 smallest states in america and having no plan with what to do with these people. so on the surface i think the republican budget makes no sense at all and has a very warped sense of priorities in terms of protecting the wealthiest people in this country the largest
corporations but sticking it to the middle class and working families. senator kaine mentioned that one of the areas that we, in fact, are going to focus on is the need to create jobs. i think all of us who are not particularly partisan are aware of the fact that the economy today is a lot better than it was when president obama left office and we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. is the economy where we would like it to be today? i don't think anyone believes that but have we made some significant progress the last six and a half years? yeah, i think we have. but having said that, let's be clear. if you look at the unemployment rates, unemployment in this country is not 5.5%. real unemployment is close to 11%. youth unemployment that we never talk about at all is somewhere around 17%. and african-american youth unemployment is off the charts.
in addition to that, we have another major problem and that is our infrastructure is crumbling. so what many of us think we should be doing is that at a time when our roads and bridges and rail system and water plants and waste water plants and levies and dams -- levees and dams and airports need a huge amount of work, and at a time when unemployment is much higher than it should be, well, what about a pretty commonsense approach that says let's start rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and let us put americans back to work. and you know whats? that is what the american people want. on every poll that i have seen, the top priority of the american people democrats republicans independents is the economy create jobs, raise wages and that is what we should be doing. so madam president in about an hour or so, i will officially
offer an amendment which will in fact rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create many, many millions of decent-paying jobs. now, in terms of infrastructure, which is a fancy word for roads bridges, water systems and rail and so forth i don't think you have to be a ph.d. ph.d. in -- a ph.d. in infrastructure to know that our infrastructure is really in bad shape. every day somebody gets into a car, whether it's in vermont or washington d.c., and you see that pothole that takes away half of your axle, you know, that's what infrastructure is about. and when you're in a traffic jam because the road is inadequate to deal with traffic that's called infrastructure. and when your water pipes in your town are bursting and flooding downtown, that's called
infrastructure. now, the truth is that for too many years congress has dramatically underfunded the maintenance and the improvement of the physical infrastructure that our economy depends upon. that has got to change, and that is why i will be introducing an amendment to invest $478 billion over six years to modernize our infrastructure. and how will we pay for that? will we pay for it by throwing children off of head start? will we pay for it by throwing people off the affordable care act? no. we're going to pay for it in the right way and that is to close tax loopholes that allow corporations and billionaires to shift their profits to the cayman islands bermuda and other tax havens. so instead of having these corporations putting their money in tax havens, putting zero in federal income tax retirement will lose them about 1 hundred
dollars billion dollars a year for that reason, we are going to ask these corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes and then we are going to use that money to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and put millions of people back to work. this amendment -- and by the way, i would tell you personally, i have introduced legislation that is more expansive than this, but because i want all of the members of the senate to be supporting this, i have tailored it down a little bit and we are talking about $478 billion over six years. this amendment will support more than nine million good-paying jobs over six years more than a million and a half jobs a year, and this is money that not only creates jobs and rebuilds our infrastructure, it makes the country more productive, your efficient and safer. right now larry summers the former treasury secretary makes the point that if we take into
account the impact of depreciation our net investment in infrastructure is actually closer to zero of g.d.p., zero percent. in other words what we are spending our money on is not building new infrastructure but replacing and patching up old infrastructure. the sad truth is that as a nation, we are falling further and further behind. throughout china multibillion-dollar projects are under way to build new bridges airports tunnels and $80 billion water project and high-speed rail lines. in china in china not in the united states. this past november, trying to approve nearly $115 billion for 21 additional major infrastructure projects. while we are debating, while we refuse to invest in our crumbling infrastructure, china is doing just that in spades. madam president, it is no
surprise that the world economic forum's global competitiveness reports now ranks our overall infrastructure at 12th in the world. 12th in the world. that's down from seventh place a decade ago and there was once a time when the united states had an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. now we are in 12th place. let's take a look at some of the problems that we face and why we need to invest in infrastructure. one out of every nine bridges in this country is structurally deficient and nearly a quarter are functionally obsolete. we need to rebuild crumbling bridges. almost one-third of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition and almost 42% of all urban highways are congested. we need to rebuild crumbling roads. transit systems across the country are struggling to
address deferred maintenance even as ridership steadily increases. people want to take advantage of transit, get to work in transit and yet the transit authorities are deferring maintenance because of limited funds. meanwhile, 45% of american households lack any meaningful access to transit, which is a huge problem in areas -- rural areas across the country including the state of vermont. in vermont in most cases, you have one way to get to work and only one way and that is in your automobile. the amendment that i will be offering also creates a national infrastructure bank. this idea championed in the past by senators on both sides of the aisle will leverage private capital to finance more than $250 billion in transportation energy environmental and telecommunications projects.
my amendment will also greatly expand credit assistance to projects of national and regional significance through the tipia program long championed by my good friend from california, senator barbara boxer, and it will boost funding for the highly competitive tiger program that funds locally sponsored transportation projects across the country that increase economic competitiveness and promote innovation. but we all know that our infrastructure problems are not just limited to roads bridges and transit. much of our nation's rail system is obsolete, even though our energy-efficient railroads move more freight than ever and amtrak's ridership has never been higher. while we debate the merits of high-speed rail here in congress countries across europe and asia have gone ahead and built their high-speed rail networks. guess what? they work.
high-speed rail trains relieve congestion on roads and airports and whisk people around quickly and efficiently. china has already 12,000 miles of track with trains that run at least 125 miles per hour and several thousand miles with trains that can travel at 200 miles per hour. meanwhile, the act sell a, -- acela, amtrak's fastest train travels at an average speed of just 65 miles per hour. this amendment will invest $12 billion to make much-needed investments to upgrade our passenger and freight rail lines, to move people and goods more quickly and efficiently. it is time for america to catch up with the rest of the world. there was once a time we were number one in infrastructure. today we are number 12. i hear my friends on the other
side talking about the debt we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren. while we are going to leave them a crumbling infrastructure which at some point somebody is going to have to pay for unless we get our act together right now. madam president, america's airports are bursting at the seams as the numbers of passengers and cargo grow. the north america airports council says that airports need almost $76 billion over the next five years to accommodate growth in passengers and cargo activity and to rehabilitate existing facilities. moreover and rather incredibly, our airports still rely on antiquated 1960's radar technology because congress chronically underfunds deployment of a new satellite-based air traffic control system. this amendment will invest $6 billion to improve airports across the country. it will invest another $6 billion to bring our air
traffic control system into the 21st century by accelerating deployment of nextgen technology that will make our skies safer and our airports more efficient. and anyone -- as many of us do who travels or flies a whole lot knows that our airports need to be more efficient than they are. bottlenecks at our marine seaports which handle 95% of all overseas imports and exports cause delays that prevent goods from getting to their destinations on time. the same is true, perhaps even more so, for our inland waterways which carry the equivalent of 50 million truck trips of goods every year. my amendment will invest an additional $1 billion a year to clear the backlog of projects needed to improve inland waterways, coastal harbors and shipping channels. our businesses simply can't compete in the global economy if
they can't move their goods and supplies to, from and within our country more efficiently. right now more than 4,000 of the nation's 84,000 dams are considered deficient. 84,000 dams considered deficient. not in need of a few repairs but deficient, serious problems. even worse one of every 11 levees has been rated as likely to fail during a major flood. i'll talk a little more about this issue in a few minutes as this is something that should concern everyone in the senate. my amendment will invest $5 billion a year to rare and improve the high-hazard dams that provide flood control drinking water irrigation, hydropower and recreation across the country and the flood levees that protect our cities and our
farms. much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life, and i like to tell the story that in rutland vermont a few years ago, that city, one of the largest in vermont had water pipes that were built before the civil war before the civil war. i think that is not all that uncommon. cities and towns all over this country in many instances have pipes that go way way way back and are constantly breaking and causing serious leaks. each year there are nearly a quarter million water main breaks with the loss of seven million gallons of freshwater. let me repeat that. each year there are nearly a quarter million water main breaks with the loss of seven billion gallons of freshwater. but that's nothing compared to the amount of water we lose
through leaky pipes and faulty meters. in all the america waterworks association estimates we lose 1.2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water every year. 2.1 trillion gallons. clearly, this is an issue that cannot continue to be delayed. we've got to address that. our wastewater treatment plants aren't in much better shape than our freshwater pipes are. almost ten million gallons of raw sewage are dumped into our nation's waterways every year when plants fail or pipes burst burst, often during heavy rains. my amendment would invest $2 billion a year, so states can improve the drinking water systems that provide americans with clean safe water. it would similarly invest $2 billion a year to improve the wastewater and storm water infrastructure that protect
water quality in our nation's rivers and lakes. madam president, america's aging electrical grid consists of a patchwork system of interconnected power generation transmission and distribution facilities, some of which date back to the early 1900s. not surprisingly, the grid suffers from hundreds of major power failures every year, many of which are avoidable. our grid system simply is not up to the 21st century challenges that it faces including resiliency to cyber attacks. it's no wonder the world economic forum ranked ranks our electric grid 24th in the year in terms of reliability just behind barbados. my amendment will invest $3 billion a year for power transmission and modernization projects to improve the
reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex power grid. this investment will position our grid to accept new sources of locally generated renewable energy and will address critical vulnerabilities to cyber attacks, an issue of great concern to many of us. another area where we are falling behind is internet access and speed. and this is especially important to rural states like vermont. the organization for economic cooperation and development the oecd, ranks the united states 16th in the world in terms of broadband access. 16th in the world in terms of broadband access. not something that we should be terribly proud of. we are only marginally better in terms of average broadband speed, 12th in the world according to the 2014 annual
report. how can it be that businesses, schools and families in bucharest, romania have access to much faster internet than most of the united states of america? my amendment will invest $2 billion a year to expand high-speed broadband networks in underserved and unserved areas and to boost speeds and capacity all across this country. let's be clear internet access is no longer a luxury. it is essential for 21st century commerce, for education, for telemedicine and for public safety. we cannot continue to lag behind many of our global competitors in terms of broadband quality and access. madam president, that is a brief summary of what my amendment does. it addresses a chronic funding shortfall. it crazy the need to start the
kinds of investments we need to bring our infrastructure, our physical infrastructure, into the 21st century. if $478 billion over six years sounds like a lot of money please consider this -- the american society of civil engineers, the people who actually know the most about the state of america's infrastructure -- they say we need to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 just to get our nation's infrastructure to a state of good repairs. so this amendment is a good start, but that's all it is. it is a good start. much more has to be done. and let me just conclude by asking my fellow americans to imagine an america where millions of people in our 50 states are hard at work earning good wages rebuilding our
crumbling bridges making our roads much better, dealing with wastewater plants, dealing with water systems dealing with our rail system. think about what america looks like when we create an infrastructure that is 21st century. so madam president our job right now is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and as a former mayor, i can absolutely assure you infrastructure does not get better all by itself. you can't turn around and ignore it and think it gets better. quite the contrary, it gets worse. if you have a bridge right now which is in serious disrepair it does not get better by ignoring it. it only gets worse and, in fact it ends up costing more money to rebuild it as it deteriorates. so we have an opportunity right now. we have an opportunity to make our country more efficient
more productive, and safer by creating a 21st century infrastructure and at the same time we have an opportunity to create millions of decent-paying jobs. in many respects, this is a no-brainer. and this amendment is paid for by ending outrageous corporate loopholes that allowed large profitable corporations from paying any federal income tax. so madam president, i hope that we will have wide bipartisan support for this amendment, which as i understand it, will be voted on tomorrow and i will officially bring it up in about a half hour. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president i'm going to talk about the fifth annual celebration of congress week sponsored by the association of centers for the study of congress. it's a national commemoration which coincides with the week in which congress achieved its first quorums in the year 1789. but before i do, madam president, let me make a couple of observations on other items of business in front of the senate. first of all, we are about to embark on the annual process of adopting a budget. this senator had the privilege
as a young congressman in my first year of being assigned to the house budget committee. and that was not long after the whole apparatus of the budget committees were set up that required congress to adopt an annual budget. and the original reason for requiring it and requiring a process called reconciliation was so that through a majority vote instead of a -- what used to be the senate cut-off debate two-thirds, now it's 60 votes to cut off debate -- that you'd only require a majority vote to pass a budget because of the tough decisions that needed to be made in
lowering a deficit by cutting spending and raising tax revenue. but along comes the administrations in the early part of the last decade, and they reversed the process. using reconciliation not to do the hard votes for senators and house members of raising tax revenue, but to do exactly the opposite. with a majority vote instead of having to reach the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate in the senate. and so as the decade started after the administration in 2000
transferred over to the new administration in 2001 with a healthy surplus lo and behold the budget in the course of the next almost a decade went completely out of whack. instead of revenues being up and spending being here on a bar graph, the difference being the surplus of more coming in each year, it went exactly the opposite. the tax revenues fell off so significantly because of the tax policies adopted through that budgetary reconciliation process in about the year 2001 the tax revenues fell off
and the spending increased and we went to huge annual deficits. now, i don't know what the majority is going to try to use reconciliation for this time but i can tell you that this senator is looking for balance and common sense and taking care of the needs that government needs to provide provide for the national security provide for those who are the least fortunate among us to provide for what a society with a big heart like in america reflected by the people that are elected in its representative government, to reflect that american people
with a big heart. and to copy our fiscal house in order. so as we start in process, i think we ought to be listening to the chamber -- or, he used to be the chairman; he's now the ranking member senator sanders of the budget committee. why we to be listening to the members of the budget committee. i've served on that committee up through this last congress for 14 years. it's an important process and it can be effective if it is not misused. and that process was misused that took us from a position of huge surpluses in the 1990's up
through 2000 and then took us exactly the opposite into huge annual deficits. madam president, i want to mention another item that i had occasion to be involved in over the weekend. if you go back to the latter part of the last year, there was a six-month period, if you can believe this, that guns were being smuggled onto commercial aircraft flying from atlanta hartsfield to new york city, where then they were sold on the streets in brooklyn. you say well, why didn't they just if they're going to have this criminal ring of selling guns in a state that does not allow the possession of guns --
new york -- why wouldn't they just run them up i-95 in a car or a truck? because law enforcement was on to that and so they devised this ingenius device, this scheme that instead was bringing the guns in the passenger cabin of a commercial airliner, not once but over a six-month period period, of which hundreds of guns were transported right in the passenger cabin. now, here's how the scheme worked: one perpetrator would come on, go through t.s.a. security with an empty knapsack backpack.
another perpetrator would come through security because there was not a check of actually checking whether that airport employee at the atlanta airport in fact had any contraband. then he could get into the area underneath the aircraft, go up into the secure area for passengers go into the men's room and transfer to the fellow with the empty backpack who had already come through security with t.s.a., transfer the guns. they transferred if you can believe it an ak-47. in the time that they finally picked up this fellow in december of last year, he had 16
guns -- handguns in his backpack. well naturally anded our -- in our responsibility as the ranking member of the commerce committee, i wanted to get into this. and what i found is that i.t. -- it's because of the security in the perimeter of the airport for the thousands of employees working at the airport they weren't doing those secure checks like we do when we go through t.s.a. as a passenger. that's how they got the guns in and then did this scheme of transferring the guns. well it's a good thing that the perpetrator was a criminal, no the a -- not a terrorist because you can imagine what it would be like had he been a terrorist.
so what are the airports going to do about it? i would suggest they ought to take a look at the orlando airport and also the miami airport. this senator visited the orlando airport over the weekend. they took hundreds of entry points at the airport for their employees and they boiled it down a handful; specifically seven entry points for about 6,000 employees at the orlando airport, and they put up the screening, the metal detection devices, the conveyor belt that takes it through the machine that looks at their backpacks to see if there's any contraband, et cetera. so it became not financially prohibitive if you boiled down
the number of imri entry points for your employees to a manageable number. a similar thing was done at the familymiami airport. and, as a result, it has at first blush the appearance that this is a way of solving the problem. now, sooner or later if this kind of scheme happens in another airport, this is going to be absolutely unacceptable and intolerable as to what happened in the atlanta airport. the question about -- what about employees losing their badges and somebody grabbing the badge and utilizing it? well at these screening points, they swipe their badge but the officers in that reduced number of entry points for airport
employees are checking the badge, looking at the picture on the badge as with the picture of the person with the badge and then having the holder of the badge go over and enter a personal identification number, a p.i.n. number, as an order of being another safeguard going into the secure area of the airport. we're going to have to do this. there's no excuse for what happened in atlanta. madam president now i want to speak about this great fifth annual celebration of congress week and it goes back to when
congress first started in 1789. the very first quawrms quorums that this congress had the birth of the congress, it wasn't on a single day or an event but it was a process of deliberation in the federal government that met in the spring and summer of 1787. they hashed out the constitution. it provided for congress to convene on march the 4th 1789. and on that date in new york city which was the temporary capital at the time, the first meeting place of the congress canons fired church bells rang to announce the birth of the new congress. but only a few members of congress had arrived by that
date. weeks passed before the house achieved its first quorum on april the 1st, with the senate not getting a quorum until another five days, april the 6th. the house and the senate met jointly on april the 6th and they did so to count the ballots of the presidential electors. and so this week's theme of congress week, the people's branch reflects and emphasizes that congress is part of the government designed to be closest to the people and most likely to reflect the sentiment of the people because it is those of us in the halls of the house and the senate that go back home and are directly
reflective and responsible to our constituent constituencies. now, we try to keep historical records of all of this. our congressional papers are some of the richest sources for the study of national fairs local history regional issues, and, of course, for american history. they document the legislative branch. they document the history and foreign affairs of the country. and it's imperative that we manage and preserve our own papers for future historical research and the study of democracy. the association of the centers for the study of congress founded in 2003 is an independent, nonpartisan alliance of more than 40
organizations that preserve the papers of members of congress and promote a wide range of programs and research opportunities. james madison said that an informed citizenry was the best guarantee that this nation's great experiment in representative democracy would work and the best guarantee that it would survive for future generations. so i want to call congress week to the attention of the senate and to the nation's public about the public awareness of the rich and colorful history of representative democracy through the institution of the united states congress. and i want to encourage our colleagues to preserve their
senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i would yield five minutes to the senator from michigan senator stabenow. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: madam president first i want to thank the distinguished senator from vermont for his advocacy and passion and hard work in laying out what this budget is all about. i also appreciate the work of the distinguished chair even though we have disagreements on the budget, because this is really an opportunity that we have to create a serious budget, a serious budget that gives every american a fair shot to work hard and to get ahead. if the opportunity to strengthen the middle class of our country -- but that's not what is happening here. what america needs is a middle-class budget. unfortunately, instead what we have is a budget that continues to rig the system on behalf of the wealthy and the
well-connected. this budget does not close corporate tax loopholes or end practices like inversions that take our jobs overseas. it doesn't even address the question of folks who pack up and leave the country and let taxpayers and workers pay the tab for the move. this budget does not help us to address our crumbling infrastructure, which is a burden on our workers and a drag on the economy and frankly if we address that, as our ranking member has urged, we would create a lot of good-paying jobs millions of middle-class jobs. this budget does not invest in a meaningful way in education and opportunity for the future, which is the key to equipping our workers to excel in the global economy that we all face. nor does it help make college tuition more affordable or help the millions of americans who are struggling to pay back college loans.
too many young people today, too many young professionals coming out of the college getting a job and having a mortgage are having loans that are more than what a mortgage would be and can't afford to even buy a house as a result of it. this budget needs to address that. this budget does nothing to address what is happening in terms of wages for tens of millions of americans who are working hard every day just trying to hold it together. it doesn't raise the minimum wage nor does it help the millions of working women who are living in poverty. half -- by the way half of the women living in poverty today could be lifted out of poverty if we just really had equal pay for equal work. that's stunning. and we could address that in this budget resolution. this budget does not protect our seniors who have worked hard to earn the security that comes
from medicare and social security. i mean, we are talking about a situation where the house in fact outrageously is suggesting while doing away with the affordable care act that has a group of exchanges that, through which insurance companies have to compete to lower prices, a whole process of the affordable care act they want to eliminate and at the same time they're proposing to put the same thing in place for medicare. take away the structure the universal structure of medicare and create a situation that will be unstable and more costly for millions and millions and millions of seniors. and finally this budget calls for the repeal of the affordable care act but it does some very interesting things. first of all, it would take health care coverage, medical
care away from 16.4 million families raise taxes on millions of middle-class families right now and then at the same time they're taking away medical care, health coverage they turn around and exclude the affordable care act from the process of points of order that are in this bill that say if there's a point of order there can be a point of order against anything that increases the deficit, except for the affordable care act. we're going to exclude that. why? because the affordable care act actually reduces the deficit and they admit it in the resolution because they exclude that from points of order. so we have a very interesting situation where, on the one hand this budget takes away medical care, health care, extra
help with closing what's called the doughnut hole for our seniors under medical; all the provisions, all the protections for people who already have insurance that now can't get dropped if they get sick, and if they are sick can get insurance even if they have a previous existing condition. all of the folks that have their children on their insurance up until age 26, all of the other protections gone under this budget. however, they admit that to do that actually increases the deficit, so they exempt the affordable care act from that provision. on top of that, we're talking about millions of americans that would have increased costs. so people are going to get increased costs increased taxes, increase the deficit and less medical care. the presiding officer: the senator has used five minutes of
her -- ms. stabenow: i would ask if i might have one more minute. thank you. i thank my distinguished colleague and leader of the budget committee. so we're in this crazy situation, mr. president where this bill would eliminate health care for 16.4 million americans right now most of whom have not had the ability to find affordable health care. it would raise their costs raise their taxes raise the deficit and then at the same time this bill keeps the revenue and the cost savings from the affordable care act. this is a pretty nifty trick, i have to tell you. so you lose your health care, but the revenue that is generated to pay for health services stays in the baseline. so they're counting the revenue. they're counting the cost savings in this budget.
they're counting the savings and taking away your health care. not a good deal. i would suggest that's a very, very bad deal. this is not honest budgeting and it certainly is not a budget that puts middle-class families first or those that are working very very hard. one job two jobs, three jobs, trying to lift themselves up to get into the middle class for themselves and their families. it is not just irresponsible budget making, it is irresponsible governing to create a document that hurts so many people in the priorities that are set. low-income people, middle-income people, those struggling hard and working hard to get into the middle class. but it protects the interests of privileged americans. this is a budget rigged for the
wealthy and the well-connected of this -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. ms. stabenow: -- and i urge a "no" vote. thank you mr. president. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i want to thank senator stabenow not only for her remarks this evening but for the great work she has done on the budget committee and i certainly concur with the thrust of what she's saying. our middle class is struggling and the wealthy are doing phenomenally well. c.e.o.'s make 270 times more than their average worker. we don't need a budget that protects the top .1% and the voassments of major -- and the c.e.o.'s of major corporations. we need a budget that protects working families and the middle class, and i know that is something that senator stabenow has been fighting for throughout this entire process and i thank her very much for that. mr. president, with that, i
would like to call up amendment number 323 which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders proposes an amendment numbered 323. on page 5 line 5 -- mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. sanders: mr. president let me just reiterate what i said a moment ago. the wealthiest people in this country are doing phenomenally well. 99% of all new income created in america today is going to the top 1%. those people are doing great. they don't need the help of the united states senate. they're doing just fine. the top .1% own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. those people are doing
extraordinarily well. they do not need the help of the united states senate. the people who do need the help are the working families and the middle class of this family, many of whom are working longer hours for lower wages. they in fact need our help. seniors who are having to make the difficult choice of whether they heat their homes in the winter buy the medicines they need or buy the food they need, they need our help. young people in this country who would love to go to college but don't know how they can afford to go to college they need our help. people graduating college $50,000, $60,000 $100,000 in debt and don't know how to pay off that debt, they need our help. so mr. president, we have got to get our priorities right and we have got to know whose side we are on.
now the amendment that i am offering, which i suspect will be voted upon tomorrow, is very significant in that it addresses two major issues. at a time when real unemployment in this country is not 5.5%. but if you count those who have given up looking for work -- and i believe you touched on that issue during your remarks presiding officer and if you count those people who have given up work or are working part time when they want to work full time, real unemployment is 11%. we need to create millions of jobs. youth unemployment 17%. african-american youth unemployment off the charts. so right now when you talk to people all over this country they say help us. create decent-paying jobs. and that is what this amendment does. this amendment creates nine million decent-paying jobs over
a six-year period, and it does it in a very sense -- sensible way. mr. president, i think you know, i know and every member of this body know and virtually every american knows our infrastructure is crumbling. our roads our bridges our water systems our wastewater plants our leffies our dams all are in need of significant improvements. we cannot be a first-rate it economy when we have a third-rate infrastructure. everybody knows that. and let me be very clear if you don't invest in infrastructure today, it is not going to get better all by itself. it will only deteriorate. we keep pushing it off and we keep pushing it off and the roads get worse and the bridges get worse and the water systems get worse. so now is the time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
and when we do that, we will create or maintain some nine million good-paying jobs. and i would hope maybe once around here we can have bipartisan support for a legislation that i think a piece of legislation that i believe in their hearts every member of this body knows -- they say how are we going to pay for this? we're not going to pay for it by cutting medicare. we're not going to pay for it by cutting pell grants. we're not going to pay for it by cutting head start. we're not going to pay for it by asking seniors low-income seniors to pay more for their prescription drugs. we're going to pay for it by an eminently fair way and that is by undoing huge tax loopholes that enable large profitable corporations in some cases to pay zero in federal income taxes. it is time to end those loopholes. it is time to invest in our
crumbling infrastructure. it is time to create millions of decent-paying jobs. and i would hope very much that we would have strong bipartisan support for this amendment. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd ask that the action under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: we've had our first amendment offered now. one to have more infrastructure.
and i doubt that there's anybody in the chamber even when they're all here, that would doubt that wye don't need to do -- that we don't need to do things with infrastructure. my infrastructure time actually goes back to when i was elected mayor of gillette, wyoming. it was a boom town. we didn't know how big it was going to increase. we were already short of sewer water, electricity streets sidewalks, not to mention police, garbage and all the other things that come with it. but the infrastructure was sorely lacking. in fact, one of the first calls i got was a person who said what are you going to do when your substation blows up and i had to ask what a substation was. then i had to ask why it would blow up. if was 110 capacity, the first warm day it would blow up. the consequence would be the people of gillette would be without electricity for without six weeks. i think these days, six weeks
without electricity would be tar and feathering so i understand electricity and the need for it. the federal government didn't offer once to do electricity for us and we didn't need them to either. but there are things that the federal government has taken the responsibility for and that we need to make sure are funded and taken care of and repaired, and i'm sure both sides of the aisle want to do that. now, the title of this amendment sounds great but when you get down in the details, there are some problems. the budget resolution has a deficit-neutral reserve fund for infrastructure and it envisions that congress will fully fund transportation priorities to strengthen our crumbling infrastructure with a new highway bill in may. and i have been here long enough to know that we always do that. it's not very difficult to get the votes together to pass a highway bill. the difficulty, of course, is coming up with the money. but there is a deficit-neutral reserve fund established to
allow the flexibility to get that to happen. that provides a mechanism so a bill can move. it will house authorizers to find new revenue or offsets to extend the life of the highway trust fund. the senate budget resolution strives to maintain a well-functioning national transportation system, a core element of the united states economy, which helps hardworking americans while reducing lower priority items that do not contribute to a national transportation network and should be handled in a local way. our nation's system of roads and bridges has deteriorated and is in desperate need of repair. everyone here is fired up about the issue because we've all experienced these infrastructure deficiencies. we've seen bridges collapse. we've seen some of the deterioration of the roads. we have all been frustrated with traffic and bottlenecks and potholes. today there are more than a million miles of roads eligible for federal aid and more than 60,000 bridges are structurally
deficient. however, the highway trust fund is bankrupt. each year, trust fund spending outpaces the revenues from the gas tax by about $14 billion and that gap is growing. to compensate for funding shortfalls the trust fund has required large transfers totaling $65 billion since 2008, $62 billion of which came from the general fund of the treasury. we didn't used to have to do that. usually the gas tax provided a big enough fund that we were able to increase the number of dollars that were spent on infrastructure. when the bowles-simpson group met, their suggestion was that the gas tax the user fee for cars using the highways needed to be raised a nickel a gallon for each of three consecutive years. now, unfortunately that's been about five years ago.
and they predicted that the money would run out before now if we didn't make that kind of a raise. there have been several things that have been proposed but we've never had a vote on any of them. a one-time cash infusion from corporate tax increases doesn't do anything to take care of the discrepancy between spending and revenues that results in the highway trust fund insolvency. we do need a long-term highway trust fund solution rather than another short-term fix that kicks the can down the road. a corporate tax increase is not the long-term solution for the problems of the highway trust fund. i have been real interested in the national tax piece and that's the part that the president hung his hat on for the infrastructure piece. and the way that works is you can charge a 14% tax mandated on all the money that's overseas. i didn't really see any clause in there that allowed that to be
paid over any kind of a period of time, but indeed all of that revenue right in the first year. i did an international tax piece. it had a much lower repatriation fee on it and it wasn't mandatory. now, the difficulty of not making it mandatory is it doesn't score so it doesn't show any dollars coming back because nobody had to bring it back. they had to declare everything up front and agree to pay the tax over a period of five years if they were going to bring it back. so there would be five years' worth of revenue from this repatriation of funds even at a lower rate which could fund what we're talking about here or it could fund the other needs that are -- that have to be done in tax reform. now, the way the budget's written, that's left up to the individual committees to come up with the solutions that they need. it wasn't for us here on the floor doing a budget where we have this mixture of people from all of the committees but not the kind of structure that we have in the specific committees to come up with the final
solution for it. there has to be -- there has to be a solution, and i know that it can be made. it can't be done, though, so that it bankrupts the companies. if you take the tax that's overseas and you impose a 14% tax on it that has to be paid this year, you will bankrupt almost every company that's out there. and the reason is that they don't just have that money sitting over there. it's being used over there. so they have got to be able to sell off or reclaim whatever money they have in order to be able to pay any taxes on the money that they've got overseas. if it was just sitting -- and that needs to be done because if we can get the companies a way to bring their money back to the united states, they will invest it in the united states and it will grow the economy and it will have more jobs. incidentally the best way to take care of most of these
problems is to grow the economy which is the opposite of what this administration is doing. it fascinated me that in the president's budget, he said that if we could grow the economy by just 1%, that it would result in $4 trillion of taxes. but everything that i see in there was ways to change that back so that we didn't grow the economy the 1% to raise $4 trillion. i had the congressional budget office look at it, and they said that would raise -- a 1% increase in the economy would raise $3 trillion so we have a small deficit difference there. that's a lot of money any way you look at it, whether it's the c.b.o. estimate or the president's estimate. some of senator sanders' tax reform ideas have merit but they should be dealt with within the context of the comprehensive tax reform and the highway bill. these tax policies have nothing to do with infrastructure and
forced transportation -- force transportation spending even further away from the use or pay principles that we have always had, until repeatedly when we started tapping some of the other trust funds. the united states tax code is overly complicated inefficient archaic. i think we all agree it needs to be fixed. i think senator hatch and senator wyden are on a path to doing that. both have taken a look at it very extensively and been working on it for quite a while. senator hatch was working on it with senator baucus before senator wyden became the chairman and i think the two of them are still working and that's how it needs to be done. it is complicated. it is inefficient. it is archaic. it is too big and it isn't fair. the current structure hurts economic growth that frustrates working americans that pushes american businesses overseas. any discussion of international or corporate tax reform should be dealt with in the context of
a comprehensive tax reform. to simplify the entire system. we shouldn't drag tax reform into the highway funding debate. one of the tendencies we have around here is to come up with some very simple solutions that as a solution sound like a really good idea. but when you get into the details, there are a whole bunch of complexities that do unintended consequences that can really foul up the whole system. and that's one of the things that something as complex as our tax system can do if we try to write that as a budget resolution. the budget resolution assumes that the tax-writing committees will adopt a tax reform proposal that reduces marginal rates but broadens the tax base to create a fair, efficient competitive pro-growth tax regime that's revenue neutral and i look forward to their work. i'm on that committee so i will get to be a part of that -- that work and one of the areas that i'm particularly interested in, of course, is small business.
i was in small business for a long time. my wife and i had shoe stores. if you have a small business corporation, the money that you make in that be given year, you pay the taxes on even though you still need to keep it invested in the business if you're going to keep the business going. those are called the pass-through businesses. and so we have to be careful that when we fix the corporate tax structure we don't ruin the small business tax structure at the same time. that's just a -- that's a major complication but when you get into the details of that, it gets even more complicated. and so i'm hoping that we do both corporate and the individual at the same time, and i have listened to senator sanders talk about and mention a number of corporations that didn't pay taxes and even got some money back. my first reaction to that is that's terrible, it shouldn't happen in america but when i
looked at it, i thought if they had really violated the law they would be in jail. they didn't violate the law. they used the tax laws that we have got now. that shows why we need to have tax reform. and i'm in favor of tax reform and eliminating loopholes. i got a look at the number of tax expenditures. i know that some of the businesses that got listed as tax expenditures actually wound up getting a different name for the same thing that they get to write off that every other business gets to write off and so we have to be careful when we're eliminating those that we're not moving into another category because one of the -- one of the tax breaks that i looked at, if we eliminated it, what it would allow them to do is write their expenses off much faster than what they agreed to write them off. so it's more complicated than it
seems on the surface. i'm hoping we can eliminate some of that complication, eliminate some of those loopholes and i am hoping that we can use some of the money for infrastructure and the rest for the simplification of it and the fairness of it. fairness is very important. that's why we have the committee structures the way we do, too to have people looking at the issues from both sides to make sure that there is fairness in the eyes of as many people as possible. it's when we start tinkering with the tax code in very small ways that we wind up with these unfairness things that happen in there. helping out one sector sometimes is adverse to another sector, but we don't realize it until the actual action takes place. so i am looking forward to the debate on infrastructure. it's my understanding that we will vote on that sometime tomorrow i think around noon. that gives us an opportunity to
have some more debate on it in the meantime and i think probably come up with some common solutions that can be worked through the committee which is what was always envisioned in our budget. so mr. president i would yield the floor and reserve the balance of the time. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call: mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i ask that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. under under -- under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination. the clerk: nomination, federal mayortime commission, william p. doyle of pennsylvania to be a federal maritime commissioner. the presiding officer: the