Floor Updates

Johnson-WI, Corker, Hutchison, Barrasso

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 14 2012

04:25 PM

Colloquy: (Senators Johnson, Corker, Hutchison, and Barrasso)
  • Spoke on the President's budget proposal.

Senator Johnson-WI: (3:31 PM)
  • SUMMARY "By now it should come as no surprise that the Senate has not passed a budget in over three years. I believe the act day count is 1,111 days. When I go back to Wisconsin, I'm sure this is true of my colleagues who join me today, the people of Wisconsin and the people of America want to us work together to start solving our debt and deficit issue. Since I've been here, the Republicans have fulfilled the responsibility to show what the plan is for stabilizing our debt and deficit. The House has passed a budget the last two years but the democrats have not here in the Senate. It's because they simply refuse to be held accountable, and that's a real shame. I realize that the American public wants us to work with each other, but my suggestion would be to the first individuals who need to work with each other, the first compromise that needs to be done is with our Democratic colleagues in this chamber. They have 53 members. They only need 51 to pass a budget. They need to get together, they need to work together, they need to hammer out a compromise and pass a budget. The way then we can get together and compromise the entire process is the House budget would be presented with the Senate budget into a conference, and then we'd have some process for being able to compromise. That's the basic minimum of what I think needs to be done here at the Senate. One point I'd like to make is that President Obama has made a number of promises during his administration and the one I'd like to talk about right now is on February 23 of 2009, in opening remarks to the fiscal responsibility summit, the President stated "Today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require to us make difficult decisions and mace challenges we've long neglected but I refuse to leave our children with the debt they cannot repay, and that means taking responsibility right now in this administration for getting our spending under control." I'd like to point out when he made those remarks the most recent estimate for what the deficit would be in fiscal year 2009 was put forward by the CBO on January 7, 2009 and they were estimating the deficit for that year would be $1.86 trillion, $1.2 trillion rounded up. Half would be $593 billion. That's the promise President Obama made to this nation in terms of the work we put in and what we deliver to our nation in terms of deficit control. The facts are far different. In 2009, largely because the very partisan stimulus package the President passed, the deficit wasn't $1.2 trillion, it was $1.4 trillion. That was followed in 2010 by $1.29 trillion. And then in fiscal 2011, $1.3 trillion and the latest CBO estimate for deficit this year will be $1.253 trillion, almost $1.3 trillion. That's double what the President promised he would be delivering to the American people in terms of deficit control. Moving forward, this President in his budget is projecting increasing our debt from about $15.6 trillion right now to over $25 trillion."

Senator Corker: (3:38 PM)
  • SUMMARY "The number-one responsibility that we have in the United States Senate is to pass a budget. And to lay out to the American people how we're going to spend the resources that come in. The last time we passed a budget, as you mentioned, was 1,111 days ago. We spent over $10 trillion of the U.S. taxpayers' money during that time. To be honest, I have quit voting for any spending bills, any spending bills, until we come to a point in time where we at least lay out to the American people how much of their money we're going to spend and what we're going to spend it on. Again, each year with $3.5 trillion to $3.6 trillion being spent by the federal government with no plan. I am embarrassed for this body, candidly, that we haven't even tried to take up a budget. I know that the committee itself began to take one up just a few weeks ago, and the chairman was asked not to do it because it made no sense to do a budget at this time. Thankfully, the parliamentarian ruled in this body that it was appropriate for us to take up a budget, and, again, I just can't imagine a greater shirking of our responsibilities than to lay out to the America people exactly where their dollars are going. What worries me most is this is the greatest transference of wealth, from these pages, from their generation to my generation, that has existed in modern history in this country. I mean there's a tremendous transference of wealth as we do not deal with the issues of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, what we're doing is actually piling up tremendous amounts of indebtedness just so the people of America will like us more as politicians as we don't make difficult decisions and don't have to wrestle with the festival issues the fiscal issues we have as a nation. This is what is ailing western democracies around the world. We're seeing this play out obviously in Europe right now. As citizens are rising up in protest over having to deal with the tough issues of the day. And there's been this grand bargain in western democracies, ours being one, where politicians have given citizens what they wish without asking them to pay for it. And I think we all understand that this is up now. We have a dilemma in this nation, we have a dilemma around the world right now because of our inability to deal with this issue. And so in the process, be a what we're doing is basically transferring wealth from this generation to my generation. It is absolute generational theft and I think speaks to the greatest vulnerability we have as a nation. If you speak to all of our national security analysts, to anybody in this body and we know that our greatest threat is not what's happening in China, it's not what's happening in Iran, it's not what's happening in Syria, but the greatest threat to this nation is we ourselves. And for some reason, this body has chosen to totally shirk our responsibilities as it relates to dealing with this issue."

Senator Hutchison: (3:43 PM)
  • SUMMARY "I would just say it's interesting because there are four of us on the floor right now. Senator from Wisconsin, the Senator from Tennessee, the Senator from Wyoming, and myself. We have one thing in common: every one of us have run a business. Every one of us were in business before we came to the united states senate. So we know when we're talking about new taxes, which is all we hear from the administration, that new taxes are not going to help this economy grow because our small businesses are scared to death out there. I know, because I've heard the Senator from Tennessee and the Senator from Wisconsin, who came straight out of a business, who ran for the United States Senate because he was so frustrated in business, we know that small business people out there today are looking at the increased taxes that are already in place with the Obamacare added taxes and surtaxes that have already been passed by the democrats in congress without one single republican vote. Those taxes are already on board to increase. Plus, you've got the fines that they're facing if they don't have the government-prescribed for the Obama health care plan. They're going to have to pay fines on top of the surtaxes to pay for the bill that they're not going to be able to use. And then they're looking at the regulations that are coming out of this administration and they're saying, and congress wants to spend another $1 trillion this year into deficits? Because every one of us knows that we're looking at hitting the debt ceiling again - over $16 trillion - this fall, because this administration will not even consider lower taxes and lower spending levels. So I look at all of us on the floor right now who have been in business, who've run a business, who have met that payroll, who have met the regulatory environment, and I think, why on earth don't we listen to the small business people of this country in this body and do what they do every year - pass a budget."

Senator Barrasso: (3:46 PM)
  • SUMMARY "Well, I would tell my colleague from Texas, who has been a leader in this fight asking for a budget, demanding a budget, that as of today been 1,111 days since the Senate has passed a budget, in spite of the law that says they must do so by April 15 of each year. So April 15 came and April 15 went, this year as it had last year and the year before and there is no budget. So I look to the leadership of the senator from Texas, who knows that the hardworking families of her state, and the hardworking families of my state resent the fact that Washington refuses to be accountable. The Democrats in this body refuse to be accountable to the American people. The American people, all they're asking for - in my opinion - is value for their money. They want to make sure the money they send to Washington is being spent effectively, efficiently and they're getting value for their money."

Senator Hutchison: (3:47 PM)
  • SUMMARY "And, you know, the spending issue is very interesting, and I look to my colleague from Tennessee, who is really one of the deficit hawks in the United States Senate, and I am looking at the statistics that are being put out about the entitlement spending. The entitlement spending today is over 50% of our spending every year. Mandatory spending - it is going to be - in ten years it is going to be 74% of the spending in this country. Now, I would just ask my friend from Tennessee, because he has really been pure on this issue, I have to say, being the deficit hawk that he is, I would ask him, how would we be able to solve the spending problem of this country without addressing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, mandatory spending that will be at 74% of the budget in ten years if we go at this rate?"

Senator Corker: (3:48 PM)
  • SUMMARY "I know the Senator from Texas spends a tremendous amount of time on appropriations issues. She knows if you wiped out all the discretionary spending, which this year is going to be capped at $1.47 trillion. We could do away with all defense spending, all education spending, all research and development and you still could not cause our budget to not have a deficit. Let me just give a stat, and I talk about this a lot back home and I'll so glad you've given me this opportunity. The average American family in America today earns $43,500 - the average American family worker in America earns $43,500. That's $87,000 in a two-earner family. That family will pay $118,000 into Social Security. You know about paying the Medicare taxes into the system. That combined amount of money for the average American family today is $119,000 in today's dollars. That same family, if they retired, would take out of the system over their lifetime $357,000. Now, think about that. $119,000 - and that's in today's dollars, again. $119,000 going into Medicare on their behalf. $357,000 coming out of Medicare. I think most people in this body, even people who haven't been in business, realize you cannot make that up with volume. Yet volume is on the way. There are 20 million more Americans over this next decade, they're going to be part of that same formula. $119,000 in, $357,000 out. I have been quoting these stats every quarter and the numbers get further and further apart every quarter."

Senator Hutchison: (3:51 PM)
  • SUMMARY "With those numbers that you just quoted, that bill cuts $500 billion more out of Medicare to pay for that overdraft that you're talking about. And you were talking about a generational change?"

Senator Corker: (3:51 PM)
  • SUMMARY "$529 billion, to be exact the Senator has stated the sustainable growth rate issue, meaning that every year we come into this cliff with physicians . Instead of dealing with this, instead we swept that issue under the rug and took the full $$529 billion to help create this entitlement, which I think most people in this body know there's no way that this bill is going to work as it is laid out, that the costs are going to be substantially more, because in a free enterprise system people act on their own behalf, in their own self-interest. The subsidies are so high for families up to $88,000 a year, the penalty is so low that what's going to happen is we're going to have thousands and actually millions and millions and millions of people that are out on this program far beyond the projections that have been laid out. So, anyway, because we're talking about Social Security and Medicare, all of us want it to be solved. That's what we want to see. We want to make sure that Medicare and Social Security is here for generations down the road. But we all know that the Medicare trustee has said it's going to be insolvent by the year 2024. One way to deal with it is to put your head in the sand and just let it happen, after you're gone. Let it happen to the good citizens of this country. Another solution is to say, hey, this is a big ship. We need to get turning in a little bit different direction. So again these young people who are sitting in front of us don't have the tab."

Senator Hutchison: (3:53 PM)
  • SUMMARY "There is a way for us to at least fix one of the entitlements and that is Social Security, in a relatively painless way. Now, it's going to have a few changes that some people won't like, but it could be so gradual if we do it now that we would raise the age just three months a year so in the bill that I've proposed - and there are others that are equally as good, although none of them have been taken up - and it would just say, you're 58 years old, you wouldn't have any change at all. If you're 57, you would retire three months later. So it's very gradual. If you do you that and you adjust the cost of living increase, you would not have to raise any Social Security taxes, you would not cut the core benefits at all, and you could gradually ease into a system that will be solvent for 75 years, so that our elderly who need social security will have it there, and that's on the table now, but what is happening in Congress and where is the leadership from the White House? Nothing And I'm going to ask the senator from Wyoming because he is one of the two actual physicians in the United States Senate what is going to happen if the Supreme Court doesn't save America by throwing out the individual mandate on constitutional grounds and we actually have the implementation of the Obamacare with the taxes and fines that are going to come in on January 1 of next year, if we don't act? Where are we going to be in health care in this country?"

Senator Barrasso: (3:56 PM)
  • SUMMARY "This health care law is bad for patients, it's bad for providers, the doctors and nurses who take care of those patients, and it is terrible for taxpayers, who are going to get stuck footing the bill. So it is not a surprise that this administration doesn't want to come to the Senate, is embarrassed to come to the Senate with a budget, because they know that the American people would be so much offended by the irresponsibility and the nature of such a budget. And that's the situation we find ourselves in now. And as both my colleagues have said, with the Medicare, they took $500 billion from Medicare not to save Medicare, not to strengthen Medicare, but to start a whole, new government program for someone else, which is why when I travel the state of Wyoming and talk to seniors, they say, we don't like this health care law. It's why the health care law is more unpopular today than it was the day it was passed.

Senator Johnson-WI
: (3:59 PM)
  • SUMMARY "Back in the 1960's 16% of expenditures were appropriated. They were under some control here in Congress. 32% were the mandatory programs and interest. Currently, about 36% of government expenditures are appropriated and 64% are basically off-budget on automatic pilot. As the Senator from Texas pointed out, ten years forward, only about 25% of our federal budget will be appropriated, be discretionary spending. Everything else is on automatic, simply not sustainable If you look at the borrowing cost of the United States from 1970 through 1999, when we were a far more credit worthy nation, our debt's GDP ratio ranged from 40% to 67%. Our average borrowing cost was 5.3%. Over the last three years, 2010 to 2012, our average borrowing costs have been 1.5% because we have held rates artificially low. If we revert to that mean, that would be a 3.8% differential applied to our debt, that would be $600 billion to $700 billion per year in additional interest expense. Compare that to $1 trillion worth of discretionary spending, that would totally wipe out the defense budget, for example. Or if you maintain the defense budget, it would wipe out all discretionary spending. That's what we need to be concerned about, is when creditors from around the world look at the united states and say you know what? I'm not going to loan you any more money. What's more likely to occur is they'll say I'll loan you money but at a far higher interest rate."

Senator Corker
: (4:01 PM)
  • SUMMARY "The illumination is so bright that we have a major fiscal issue in this country, and we're watching how that can play out and be so destructive to people's lives right now in Europe, as they try to deal with these issues. Our nation is so large that, and the economy is so big, there will not be anyone to come to our rescue like we're seeing play out in some of these other countries. And for us to see what's happening, to know that we're participating in this, we're participating in this because spending here in America is on autopilot. We're going to spend $45 trillion to $47 trillion of the American people's money over the next decade. We have not a single document in place to lay out how that's going to take place. I just think it's incredibly irresponsible. It would be an embarrassment to me if I had some ability to run this place and to know that we had no budget. And yet, we know the calamity that is going to occur if we do not deal with this issue. We understand it full well. And we're doing nothing about it. Instead we're dealing with all kinds of issues here, all about elections and can one side make the other side look bad? And is this going to make a tough vote for somebody else. Instead of dealing with our number-one responsibility. I'm hoping that somehow at least 60 folks in this body will be willing to pass a budget to then create a conference between the house and senate so we can take a major step towards living up to our financial obligations as a country."

Senator Johnson-WI
: (4:04 PM)
  • SUMMARY "There are two plans on the table right now. One is from the House Republicans. It actually passed the chamber. Republicans were willing to put their votes to a budget. Republicans are willing to be held accountable. Of course the other plan would be the President's budget which last year his budget lost in this body 0-97. His current budget lost in the House 0-414. I guess you could say the plan doesn't sound like a particularly serious plan."