Senate Calendar

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jul 25 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (7:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I simply want briefly to add my voice to theirs and echo the three points that they emphasized. One, we absolutely must take action on Cybersecurity. Two, it is a genuine and undeniable matter of our American national security. And three, we cannot claim to have done the job, we cannot claim to have even have attempted the job seriously if we don't address the question of the critical infrastructure on which American life and our economy depend that is in private hands and therefore cannot be protected under the existing regime and place protecting our government and military networks. We have to solve that problem. Anything that does not solve that problem is a clear failure of our duty as national security experts from Republican and Democratic administrations alike have very clearly explained."
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • On Thursday, cloture was filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. Unless an agreement is reached to hold the vote earlier, the vote will occur on Friday.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Thursday, July 26th.

Lieberman, Franken, Grassley

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Lieberman: (6:16 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I think we're involved in a collaborative process that will not only lead to the passage of Cybersecurity legislation this year that will be effective to protect our national security and prosperity, but will in its way prove to the American people that we're still capable here in the Senate of coming together across party lines to fix a problem, in this case to protect our great country."

Senator Franken: (6:24 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Tom Davis, who passed away on July 19, 2012.

Senator Grassley: (6:46 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "The fact is we have to keep moving the ball forward, regardless of how we feel about all these separate parts of a Farm bill. We need to get to finality. We have a drought gripping this nation and that is going to be tough on many Americans and it's going to affect every American, not just the 2% of the people that are farmers because you know it's going to cause food prices to go up. But the drought has drawn into focus just how important our farmers are to our food supply. Americans enjoy a safe and abundant food supply. That is because of the hard work and dedication of so many farming families throughout our country. Sometimes weather conditions or other events outside of the farmers' control can make it difficult to keep farming. Farmers aren't looking for a handout, but when faced with conditions such as a near-historic drought, many farmers may need assistance to get through. Men and women go into farming for all sorts of reasons, but at the heart of farming is a desire to be successful in producing an abundant crop to feed the nation and the world. Farmers have many tools to manage their risks so that they can keep producing food. They've adopted advanced technology, such as drought-resistant crops. Farmers buy crop insurance. In my state of Iowa, about 92% of the farmers have crop insurance. Livestock farmers help animals manage heat by building climate-controlled buildings. But when faced with weather conditions such as we are currently dealing with, even the best-laid plans may not keep the farming operation afloat. That's where the federal government comes in. We help provide a safety net."

Jul 25 2012

Senator Reid: (5:07 PM)
  • Cloture has been filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill.
  • Paid tribute to Senator Leahy for casting his 14,000 roll call vote.
  • Paid tribute to Senator Lugar for casting his 13,000 roll call vote.

Senator McConnell: (5:10 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Leahy for casting his 14,000 roll call vote.
  • Paid tribute to Senator Lugar for casting his 13,000 roll call vote.

Senator Sanders: (5:14 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Leahy for casting his 14,000 roll call vote.

Senator Leahy: (5:17 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues for their tribute.

Senator Lugar: (5: 21 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues for their tribute.

Senator Moran: (5:24 PM)
  • Spoke on the Department of Agriculture.
    • SUMMARY "Our own Department of Agriculture - again at least from my perspective - and we ought to look what the mission of the department is, I think it will reflect what I'm saying - is to promote agriculture, to help those who every day go to work to produce food, fiber, and fuel for this country and the world. And yet our own Department of Agriculture is encouraging people not to eat meat and indicates that these statements - again, from their newsletter - "the USDA headquarters food operations are a high-profile operation to demonstrate USDA's commitment to USDA's missions and initiatives." So, I wouldn't surprise me that what you see the Department of Agriculture somehow lose this newsletter. But it's posted on their web site, and I just would encourage Secretary Vilsack to rethink their role in discouraging something that is so vital to the U.S. economy and something so important to the Kansas economy. We are a beef-producing state, and generate significant revenue for Kansas farmers and ranchers, and it is one of the items that improves our balance of trade as we export meat and beef around the world. And yet our own department of agriculture encourages people not to consume meat."

Senator Lieberman: (5:28 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "Anybody who's spent any time not even studying the classified materials on this but just Republican colleague the newspaper, following the media knows that America is under daily constant cyber attack and cyber theft. The commander of cyber command, General Keith Alexander, said recently in a speech that cyber left it represented the largest transfer of wealth in human history. That is, stealing of industrial secrets, moving money from bank account, I believe he said it was as if we were having our future stolen from us. And it's all happening over cyberspace, and obviously enemies, both nation states, non-state actors like terrorist groups, organized criminal gangs and just plain hackers are finding ways to penetrate the cyber systems on which our society depends, the cyber systems that control critical infrastructure, electric grid, transportation system, the whole financial system, the dams that hold back water, etc. So this problem - the problem that this - this bill is not a solution in search of a problem. It is a problem that is real and cries out for the solution that this bill would provide."

Senator Rockefeller: (5:36 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "Here's what we know right now. The federal government needs to do a better job of protecting its own networks. Companies control most of our nation's critical infrastructure and they need to do a better job of eliminating cyber vulnerabilities from their systems. There are no clear lines of authority and responsibility in the federal government for cyber security, which will cause in the event of a cyber to catastrophe. And the private sector and the federal government need to be able to share information about cyber threats The basic thing is a more regulated approach - in other words, you have to do this ... We've taken that away and we've made it much more voluntary. We've made it a vowel terry approach. And some say, well, that's worse than no bill at all, to which the pressure to do something is greater, particularly if they have to submit to audits as to the standards of work which they're doing to protect themselves. There are a variety of ways to do this. We could have a council, DHS council which would decide what the standard should be. There was some talk this morning about having a convening session called by NIST, the National Institute of Science and Technology, which is very good at this stuff, to convene the private sector and have those two kind of work out a system, but the NIST has no authority, they have no regulatory authority, so they could just let them come up with their suggestions, and then there was an idea that maybe the DHS could take a look at that and certify it, stamp it with approval or not on basic critical infrastructure, and of course you would have to pick out which was the critical infrastructure because there's lots of it. And so which one would be subject to special regard is something that we still have to work out We have settled on a plan that creates no new bureaucracies. However that plan forms, it will have no new bureaucracies or heavy handed regulation. That's already understood. It's premised on companies taking responsibility for securing their own networks with government assistance where necessary. This bill represents a compromise and it's time to move forward with it."

Senator Collins: (5:49 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "This vital legislation would provide the federal government and the private sector with the tools needed to help protect our country from the growing cyber threat. It would promote information sharing, improve the security of the federal government's own networks, enhance research and development programs, and most important of all, it would help to better secure our nation's most critical infrastructure from cyber attack. These are the power plants, the pipelines, the water treatment facilities, the electrical grid, the transportation systems, the financial networks upon which Americans rely each and every day. The fact is the computerized industrial controls that open and close the valves and switches in our infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Indeed, the internet is under constant siege on all fronts by nations like China, Russia and Iran, by transnational criminals, by terrorist groups, by activists and by persistent hackers. That is why our nation's top national security and homeland security leaders from the current and former administrations have urged us to take legislative action to address this unacceptable risk to both our national security and our economic prosperity."

Vote Results (Passage)

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Passed, 51-48:
S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (McConnell/Hatch amendment)

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Not Agreed to, 45-54:
McConnell/Hatch amendment (text of S. 3413, the Republicans' Tax Cut bill) to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jul 25 2012

Senator Boxer: (2:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I think it's important to simplify what is going on here with these two proposals, the Republican proposal and the Democratic proposal, and so I'm going to attempt to do that. You have two packages of tax cuts. The Democratic package gives everyone, everyone a tax break on their income tax for the first $250,000 of income, so everybody gets that tax break. The main difference is that under the Republican plan, they give more to incomes above 250, where we say everybody gets a tax break up to $250,000, and after that we go back to the tax rates of Bill Clinton. When we created 23 million jobs, when we balanced the budget and created a surplus. Now, in order to do this, the Republicans don't do some of the things we do for the middle class. An extension of the tuition tax credit, a generous childcare tax credit. And so that's the difference. Their package costs $50 billion more. And if you figure you do this over ten years, you do the math, $500 billion. But let's just take it to one year. That $50 billion of costs, their package, if you didn't go that way and you supported the Democratic package, you could use that to either reduce the deficit or to soften the sequester. You have people running all over television. We're ruining the country with this sequester. These are Republicans who came up and supported that idea of automatic spending cuts. You could take that $50 billion if you said the upper income would pay their fair share and cut the automatic spending cuts in half."

Senator Cardin: (3:08 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The bill that we will be voting on very shortly says that we won't let the personal income tax rates go up for those whose incomes are up to $250,000 Every income taxpayer gets the advantage of that. To make a million dollars, you get the lower tax rates on the first $250,000. So everyone gets the advantage We also protect the refundable tax credit because we know that American families depend upon that refundable tax credit. That's part of their planning process to know whether or not they can buy consumer goods. We include that in the legislation that we will have a chance to vote on. We include the American opportunity tax credit That's to help families afford college education which represents to build this great nation, helps to make us more competitive. We have also included in the legislation the small business expensing because we want to give predictability to small businesses to go out and buy capital assets so that they can turn around and help our economy grow. So I just really wanted to point out, it's a pretty simple choice. Do we believe that we should give the predictability everyone agrees on, can't we keep the bill simple and get it done? My Republican colleagues want to be able to find some way to vote no, to help the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. If you make a million dollars, you're going to get a $6,000 relief under this bill. Isn't that enough?"

Senator Leahy: (3:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "We sent a clear message that we have to stop domestic and sexual violence. We will stand together to protect all victims. Most of us here had hoped the house republicans would follow our demonstration of bipartisanship. We gave them an excellent bill. They could have just quickly taken it up and passed it. But unfortunately they put politics first. They drafted a new bill. They have the right to do that but here's what they did. They intentionally stripped out protections for some of the most vulnerable victims, including immigrants, LGBT victims and native women. They took out the key provisions to make campuses and public housing safer. They rejected the input of law enforcement and victims services professionals who cease protections they needed to desperately save lives. In other words, they said, you know, two victims who were subjected to the same kind of abuse, we might protect this one but by law, we won't protect this one. I could tell you, there's no one in the law enforcement in this country, no matter what their political background, who wants to be put in that position. They believe that a victim is a victim is a victim. They want to protect all of them."

Senator Nelson-FL: (3:32 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "We're in the middle of a partisan war all wound up in the crucible of an election year for president, and as a result, we're going to have two tax votes today that don't pass. The republican version of the tax cut is going to be all of the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, they stay in effect for all levels of income. And, oh, by the way, in their bill they say that to make up for that $405 billion that will not go into the treasury as a result of the continuation of the bush tax cuts, in one year, $405 billion that you can't do anything with revenue, so they're going to prohibit what half of the senate knows ultimately the solution to the problem. That's one version. The other version is what is being brought forth by the majority leader, which is you give the tax cuts for everybody, including the top 2%, but the top 2% above $250,000 adjusted gross income on a joint return, that that tax rate will go up a little over 4%. Just on the income above the $250,000 adjusted gross income. Not on the income underneath, which everybody continues to have the continued tax rate. And that in that same proposal, that 97% of the small businesses will not get any kind of tax increase. They likewise if they're a sub chapter s corporation, will have the same benefits of the tax cut up to that level of $250,000. And you heard comment out here about, oh, we got to keep the estate tax up, which I certainly - the exemptions on the estate tax up which I certainly agree with. Well, in this version that the majority leader is going to offer it has no provisions in it on raising the estate tax. Now, would that be my preference? I'm going to vote for the majority leader's proposal, but my preference is that you would take that tax cut up to the level of adjusted gross income of a million dollars on a joint return, which would be far less than 1% of the people in this country would be affected by a 4% increase in that income above a million dollars."

Senator Schumer: (3:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "For weeks, Senate Democrats have been asking our friends on the other side of the aisle to allow this debate on taxes to happen. Leader Reid has repeatedly offered to have a simple up-or-down vote on both the Democratic and Republican proposals. Time after time Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined. Fortunately that has now changed. Senator McConnell has, after weeks of delay, relented, and decided he isn't going to filibuster our middle class tax cut bill. That is very good news for the country. The most important thing we can do for the economy right now is to provide certainty to the middle class that their taxes aren't going up. Now, I believe there are two reasons that Senator McConnell finally decided to allow this to happen. First, forcing his entire caucus to filibuster this legislation would have been politically disastrous for them. It would have prevented any debate or amendments on the Democratic tax cut legislation, meaning the Republicans wouldn't have been able to offer their amendment to extend tax cuts for those millionaires and billionaires. In other words, a filibuster would have meant that there would have been only a single vote on middle class tax cuts on the Democratic proposal, and that almost all Republicans would then have been on record against them. Second, I truly believe that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have really and truly looked at the Democratic proposal and realized that voting for it is the right thing to do. And I believe that Senator McConnell wouldn't have been able to stop them from voting "no." So faced with widespread concern in his caucus, I believe Senator McConnell decided that an abrupt about-face was in his best interest."

Senator Hatch: (3:51 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Before we vote, I would like to make three points. First, it has been suggested that the Hatch-McConnell bill fails to extend the earned-income tax credit and child tax credit provisions. This is utterly false. The Hatch-McConnell bill extends these provisions as they were originally agreed to in 2001. And that agreement actually doubled the child tax credit. Democrats are complaining that our bill does not extend the stimulus provisions that expanded these provisions even further and made them more refundable. Democrats sold the stimulus bill as being timely, temporary and targeted. And now they are holding up tax relief for nearly every income tax payer unless the stimulus provisions that are mostly spending through the tax code are extended yet again. Second, the Democrats' proposal includes a significant increase in the death tax. The number of death tax filers will increase under their bill by 11 times. This is what they are proposing. 98,300 new filers will now have to fill out estate tax forms, get appraisals, deal with the IRS and get all of this done within nine months of the death of a loved one. That is the equivalent of one entire mid-sized American city being forced to deal with the death tax every year. Third, the Democrats' bill is a massive tax increase on small business job creators. It would subject 53% of all flow-through business income in the United States to higher taxes. There is a compromise. Our economy needs relief. Businesses and families need certainty and all we are proposing is extending current tax law for one more year so that we can dedicate that year and do tax reform. By contrast, the Democratic bill offers nothing but more uncertainty and tax increases on job creators. Let's face it, we're talking about 940,000 small businesses that will be drastically affected by this. Many of those provide jobs in our society and will continue to do so if we don't clobber them with the Democrat approach."

Senator Boxer: (3:54 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "When you look at the two plans - the Republican tax cut plan versus the Democratic tax cut plan - what you see is, one is for the middle class. That's the Democratic plan. One is for our middle-class families. It includes tuition tax credit and enhanced child care tax credit. It's very important that we do that. And the other is a give-away to the millionaires and the billionaires. And it is amazing to me that it isn't enough for my Republican friends to give everyone a tax break in this nation of ours, up to the first $250,000 of income. And then say after that we're going to go to the tax rates of Bill Clinton. In those years, unlike the Bush years, we created 23 million jobs, and we created surpluses as far as the eye could see. But my Republican friends want to go backward to the bush years, to the trickle-down year and here's the problem: they do it on the backs of the middle class. Now they claim that our plan will hurt small business owners. Let me be clear, 97% of small business owners earn less than $250,000 a year, so all that talk about job creators is nothing but talk. It's nothing but a smoke screen for the highest earners in America."

Senator McConnell: (4:01 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The vote we're about to take on the Democratic plan to raise taxes is interesting for a few reasons. First, it's a revenue measure that didn't originate in the House, so it's got no chance whatsoever of becoming law. Second, it's a perfect example of what you get when you put politics over the people who sent you here. If the Democrats truly believed what the president's been saying out on the stump, they'd vote for his plan. But as the vote tally will show, they can barely muster 50 votes on their own plan, let alone his. So for the entire president's talk about supporting a balanced approach to taxes, he evidently can't even get 50 votes for his plan in a Democrat-controlled Senate when we all know he'd need 60 votes to get it to his desk. So instead of voting on the president's plan, our democratic friends have cobbled together the only thing they could come up with that would muster more than 50 votes, a purely political exercise and a total waste of time. But to be honest, I can't imagine why they want to vote for either one since both proposals raise taxes on about a million business owners and both raise taxes on investment at a time when the economy is in paralysis. I mean, here's the Democratic plan for the economy. We'll get this thing going again. We'll get it going again by raising taxes. Let's take more money out of small business and send it to Washington. That's how we'll create jobs, they say. Let us create jobs. Let us create the jobs instead of the small business owners out in America. After all, they don't create jobs anyway. Of course Washington creates jobs. You're looking for the legislative equivalent of the president's now-famous view that you didn't build that, this is it They don't think you deserve to keep what you've earned because you're not responsible for earning it. They don't think you're entitled to keep what you've earned because, after all, you weren't even responsible for earning it. They are. That's the message democrats are sending with today's votes. That you are not responsible for your success. Washington is. So give us your money, and we'll handle it for you. That's their tax plan. That's their plan for the economy and for jobs."

Coats, Wicker, Thune, Moran, Hoeven, Barrasso

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Coats: (2:08 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "Even though I had some problems with the Farm bill and I fully understand the issues there that those policies that directly affect agriculture are being subordinated to a bill which incorporates about 80% of that bill for federal food assistance. These are nutrition issues which of course are related to agriculture. By the same token, it is a federal program that is significantly different than what the farm bill is designed to accomplish. So about 20% of that bill affects the farmers in our area, and the other 80% goes to a federal welfare type program for providing food stamps and other nutrition assistance, so I'm hoping that the House, particularly in light of the fact that we are suffering a significant drought, probably the worst drought since 1950, according to the weather records, and getting worse all the time. The temperatures have been in the low 100's all across the Midwest, the bread basket of America where we produce most of our grain and feed stock and cornfields and soybean fields and other pastures are burning up with blazing sun and hundreds of degrees every day and no water falling from the skies. So this drought is seriously impacting my state but also a number of Midwestern states and essentially the states that produce the bulk of our agricultural products. They affect not only needed crops to provide feed stock but also that support our ethanol program and a number of other programs. It's a dire situation, so I'm hoping that the House can resolve its issues and move forward. There are a number of provisions in this Farm bill that provide relief to farmers, ranchers suffering from this drought. Those are expiring, and so it's important that we pass this bill, we get it past both houses of Congress and in the Congress, resolved and signed by the president before these provisions expire, and so I'm urging my colleagues in the house where I once served to help with this by moving forward on this Farm bill."

Senator Wicker: (2:12 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "I happened to be in the state of Missouri in the past few days and saw the terrible drought conditions there. I can't think of a worse time with our farm community being devastated by this drought to talk about a huge tax increase on our agriculture community, particularly in the form of the estate tax The result of this legislation would be to take the estate tax back up to 55% on all of the value of an estate over $1 million. This would be a devastating tax increase, and I honestly do not believe that the American people understand that this is the effect of the legislation that our friends from the majority side have brought forward, but if this bill is passed, the way it is currently configured, that would be the result. We would go back to the old law, 55% tax on all the value of these southern and midwestern farms, of any small businesses across the country would go up to 55% over values of a million dollars. It's an unthinkable result."

Senator Thune: (2:14 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The proposal that we will vote on as presented by the Democrats today would allow the death tax exemption to go back down to $1 million. That's the pre-2001 level. And apply a 55% tax rate on top of that. Now, just to give you an example of how that might work in a state like mine, I represent South Dakota. The average sized farm in my state is a little under 1,400 acres. If you look at the average - the value per acre of land and multiply it by the size of the average farm, you're talking about an average farm between $2 million and $2.5 million in value. So you could be talking about - this is average ... would be impacted in a much more significant way than this, but you are talking about then subjecting about $1.5 million of that farm's value to a 55% tax rate. And 84% of the value of farm assets, according to USDA is in real estate. So they're land rich but cash poor. What happens? When the IRS comes calling after someone passes away and says your farm is worth this amount, we're going to assess a 55% tax, they say we can't pay that. We don't have the cash. Yes, we have it in land so what do they do? They sell the land. They sell assets. They sell equipment to pay the IRS and here we are trying to promote intergenerational transfer of farms and ranches to keep family farming in this country as part of the backbone of our economy and this is the absolute opposite of what we ought to be encouraging if we want policies that encourage family farms and ranches to stay in the family. So having a confiscatory tax like this that would apply a 55% tax to assets above a million dollars is going to have a crushing impact on farms and ranches in my country the proposal in the Democrat bill which would take the exemption back down to a million dollars and raise the top rate to 55% would apply to 24 times the numbers of farms and ranches as does current law. In other words, it increases by 24 times the number of family farms and ranches that would be impacted by the estate tax relative to where we are under current law lots of mom and pop businesses, 13 times the number of small businesses would be subject to the death tax as is the case with current law."

Senator Coats: (2:18 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Many of us are stunned with the proposal that is being brought forward for a vote today to proceed on this bill which incorporates a change in the tax law to impose a 55% tax if you die. On all the work and all the profits and all the investment that you've made throughout your lifetime which, by the way, you've paid taxes on over and over and over. The government now can never get enough. So the president is now proposing, being led here by the Democrats in the Senate, of raising the death tax from 35%, its current level, to 55% ... We have some dear friends, more than one couple and I've talked to people throughout Indiana where the pride in holding their ground as part of their extended family covering more than one and two generations, and the work that they have put in order to preserve that hand down to their children and then to their grandchildren, now goes up in flames. Because when they die, they are now imposed if their farm is valued at more than $1 million a 55% tax on the value of everything over that $1 million. And people say, well, okay, they're millionaires. No, they're not millionaires. They are sitting on property that might be valued that, they might be losing money and for sure this year they're going to lose money. They're not going to make any money this year because they've had to plow their corn under because it happened gotten the rain and moisture it needs and it's not going to grow and we don't know yet extent of this disaster. Yet to preserve that within the family and hope for better years to come, those won't happen. Because they're going to value their land, the IRS will value their land, at a price which causes them, the only way they can pay for that is to sell their assets. Why in the world at a time of an economic drift back into potentially recession this country is not in good economic shape."

Senator Moran: (2:24 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "We learn today the proposal that we're going to revert back to days gone by in which a million-dollar estate will be subject to a marginal tax rate of 55%. It has been a series of things in the last year from this administration and this congress that sends a message to farmers and ranchers in Kansas and small business men and women in our state and across the country that your value, your work, your work ethic, your efforts will not be rewarded, not only will they not be rewarded but we will discourage them. We will not reward the kinds of things that do you each and every day, the things that you're optimistic about ... In this sense, that every farmer and rancher I know at the end of the day, their goal is to see that they've done the things that day, not only to feed and clothe and provide energy to the world but see they have a farming operation, a ranching operation that is of the nature that it can be passed on to the next generation of Kansas farmers and ranchers We arrive today to discover that we we want to increase the tax on people who work hard every day and whose goal it is to sell their sons and daughters, I have a farm or I have a ranch and you can take over where I left off. Why is that important? That's the way historically in our state farming has occurred. It's a family farming operation and it's passed down from great grandparents to grandparents to parents to children to grandchildren and there is are great pride and satisfaction that comes from that and we are here today to make certain that the federal government doesn't create one more obstacle toward that goal of making certain that the next generation of Kansans have the opportunity to work to earn a living, to feed the world on their own family farm or ranch. And it is so surprising to me that there would be anyone who believes that these individuals, these business operations, farms or small businesses, ought to be singled out and treated in a way that discourages them from accomplishing that American dream of passing that farm and ranch on to kids and grandkids. And I hope that our colleagues today see the light and understand how important this is in rural America and not only is it important in rural America but what happens in our part of the country determines whether or not we have the ability to provide food and fiber for the country and for the globe."

Senator Thune: (2:33 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "A lot of people think that people who have $1 million of assets are rich. But as I said earlier, in most farm and ranch operations, the value of that, or 80% of the value of that are in real estate. They may be land rich but cash poor. When you talk about imposing a tax of this size on hardworking farmers and ranchers in this country, you really are getting at the very heart of, as the senator from Kansas pointed out, their ability to transfer that farm or ranch operation to the next generation. That's really what's at stake here The size of these modern operations in many cases exceed in multiples by amount, the $1 million exemption that would be allowed for under the Democratic proposal. Everything above that would be taxed at 55% which would be absolutely disastrous for American agriculture today. That's on top of the other taxes. This proposal also raises taxes on about a million small businesses which employ about 25% of the American workforce. It raises taxes on capital gains and dividends. It puts this death tax back in place with a $1 million exemption. If you look at the number of people who would be subject to the death tax today this proposal would increase the number of people 24 times, a 2,400% increase in the number of people who would be subject to the death tax, according to the joint committee on taxation. That's the group that studies these issues here and looks at the impact of tax policy. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 24 more times farmers and ranchers would be subject to the death tax than today and 13 times more small businesses. That's the scale of the proposal the democrats have put forward."

Senator Hoeven: (2:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "We're looking at a bill that essentially is a plan that's been put forward by President Obama that will raise income taxes, that will raise taxes on capital gains, and that will raise the estate tax. I was down here this morning, and others have been, talking about the impact on small business that those tax increases will have when we've got 8.2% unemployment. We've had 8% unemployment for more than 40 straight months. And in a, to a large degree people are focused on the increase in the income tax and its increase on small business. But this impact from the estate tax, from the death tax is a big deal, and people need to understand what the ramifications are if that estate tax is increased. And they understand it very well in our states because of the case we're making right here. Look at how this affects our farmers and ranchers. You're talking about going from a situation where, when a farmer or rancher looks to pass on that farm or ranch, right now they're taxed from an estate tax standpoint on the amount above $5 million. And then it's at a 35% rate. But what would this plan that's being put forward today do, that's being put forward essentially by the president, by the other side of the aisle? It would change that to go back to anything over $1 million is subject to estate tax, and then it's taxed at a 55% rate. So just do the math it doesn't work. It just doesn't work. In other words, that family can't borrow enough money to pay off the estate tax and keep the farm because they can't afford to pay back that level of debt. The farming operation won't sustain it. The ranching operation won't sustain it. You can't borrow that much money to try to keep the farm in the family because you can't afford to pay the debt as a business enterprise it, can't service the debt. So what happens? The only alternative is to sell the farm. So now here you have farmers who have been farming for generations - their father, their grandfather, grandmother, mother, relatives, all the way back. And now their kids. Their kids are farming with them now. Their children are involved in that farming enterprise, and they want to continue farming. But that's not going to be an option because they're not going to be able to afford the estate tax. So this is exactly what we're talking about when we talk about how raising taxes will have a detrimental impact on our economy."

Senator Moran: (2:47 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "It is not just the fear of having to pay more taxes but it is the reality you don't have the income to pay the tax, therefore requiring the sale of the assets, the sale of the farm machinery and equipment, the sale of the land, the sale of the cattle, and so while no one wants to pay more taxes, in this case it is even more onerous that you have value to assets. You have some wealth in the land and the equipment and the cattle, but never the sufficient income to pay the tax and, therefore, the sale of those assets is required to pay the taxman, a understand, therefore and, therefore, you don't have those assets that I was talking about earlier to pass on to your children and grandchildren. This is not about I don't want to pay anymore taxes. This is the relate that I don't have the ability at all to come up with the income unless . go to the bank and borrow the money. But then I don't have the cash flow to repay the loan and, therefore, I sell the property. And this, it comes at a time when many Kansans, are farmers, and others would complain about how business and agriculture keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The reality is, we would love to have those farming operations, that family-sized farming scale that is so important to the cultural and economic vitality of communities across Kansas and across America, but because we have laws like the estate tax, we sell those assets to bigger entities who can better afford and we reduce the number of family farms that most of us believe are so important to who we are as Americans and certainly so important to the economy and the cultural nature of rural America."

Senator Barrasso: (2:55 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "A proposal on the floor of the United States Senate that says, we don't care what you did, how hard you worked, what the impact is going to be on leaving this legacy to your family; we are going to bring back the death tax and we're coming four is something that people back home in all of rural America and I would think in many, many places around the country would find shocking, astonishing and very sad as a commentary of what role Washington and government is trying to impose upon their lives. To take these levels of taxation to much higher levels where death tax hits at $1 million and at 5% at that level down from where we are now where it is at $5 million indexed to inflation. We see inflation. And a maximum of 35%. I'm astonished that people would actually consider voting for that. But yet that's what the Senate majority leader has been proposing, and that's what we're going to vote on within the next hour."

Reid, McConnell

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Reid: (2:01 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • At 4:00 PM today, the cloture motion with respect to the motion to proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill, will be withdrawn, and the Senate will adopt a Motion to Proceed to S. 3412. The only amendment in order to the bill be a bill offered by Senators McConnell and Hatch, which is identical to S. 3413, that the amendment not be divisible, that the time until 4:00 PM be equally divided. Prior to vote on the McConnell-Hatch amendment, that upon disposition of the McConnell-Hatch amendment, the Senate will proceed to vote on passage of the bill as amended, if amended. There will be no motion or points of order or amendments in order to the amendment or the bill, that there be two minutes equally divided between the votes. Finally, that when the Senate receives a companion bill from the House providing for the extension of tax cuts as designated by the majority leader, it be in order for the majority leader to proceed to its immediate consideration, strike all after the enacting clause, and insert the text of S. 3412 as passed by the Senate in lieu thereof, that the House bill as amended be read a third time, the statutory pay-go amendment be read if needed, and that the amendment be passed with no intervening action or debate (McConnell objected).

Senator McConnell: (2:03 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • Strike the last paragraph, and that a second amendment, the text of which will be at the desk and is the president's small business tax hike. Further, that it be considered under the same terms of my amendment and that after the vote on that amendment, the Senate proceed to a vote on the McConnell-Hatch amendment as the original request provided for (Reid objected).

Senator Reid: (2:03 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • At 4:00 PM, the cloture motion with respect to the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill, will be withdrawn, the Senate will adopt the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, and the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. McConnell/Hatch amendment (text of S. 3413, the Republicans' Tax Cut bill); and
      2. Passage of S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill, as amended, if amended.

Webb, Roberts, Durbin

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Webb: (12:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I would like to clarify my position on the vote that we are going to be taking this afternoon. First, I want to emphasize that I agree with all those comments that have been made by my Democratic colleagues about needing to keep tax cuts in place for our lower income workers, our middle class. I just happen to believe that we need to keep them in place for everyone who is making their income through what we call ordinary earned income. Earned income, ordinary earned income is the strongest indicator that a person in this country is actually accumulating wealth, which is the American dream. It's not necessary that you have wealth, whatever the amount may happen to be. Passive income, which is income from capital gains such as investment in stocks, dividends, is one of the best indicators that you actually have accumulated a certain amount of wealth. You have enough money to set aside and invest it. My long belief has been that if we're going to raise taxes on income, in addition to these other things that we have been talking about with respect to tax loopholes and subsidies and those sorts of things, that you really ought to be doing so in the fairest place, and the fairest place is from passive income, not ordinary earned income. And I have said since the day that I announced for the United States Senate years ago that I will not vote to raise taxes on ordinary income of any amount ... Sources of income for the top 0.1%. We keep talking about these people at the top who aren't paying their fair share. Well, two-thirds of the money that is being made by the top 0.1% in this country, and that's 140,000 taxpayers, is being made from passive income. It's being made from capital gains and dividends which are taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income. Right now, 15% I am not going to vote for raising taxes on ordinary earned income."
  • Spoke on the South China Sea.
    • SUMMARY "In the absence of a Law of the Sea Treaty, and I think with the resurgence of the Chinese, a certain faction of the Chinese tied to their military, China has become more and more aggressive. This past month has been very troublesome. On the 21st of June, China's state council approved the establishment of what literally the creation from nowhere of a governmental body in an area that is claimed also by Vietnam. Unilaterally. On Friday, July 13, because of disagreements over how to characterize the South China Asia situation, the Association of Southeast Asian nations failed to issue a about the South China Sea issues, the multilateral resolution of the issues. On July 22, the Central Military Commission of China announced the deployment of a garrison of soldiers to the islands in this area. The garrison command will likely be placed in the Paracel Islands, right here, as I say, claimed by Vietnam within the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam. July 23, China began implementing this decision. It announced 45 legislators are now to govern the approximately thousand people who are occupying these islands. They've elected a mayor and a vice mayor. They've announced that a 15-member standing committee will be running the ... They've announced that this city that they are creating will administer more than 200 islets, sand banks, and reefs covering two million square kilometers of water. In other words, they have created a governmental system out of nothing, they have populated and garrisoned an island that is in contest in terms of the sovereignty and they've announced that this governing body will administer this entire area in the South China Sea. China has refused to resolve these issues in a multilateral forum. They claim that these issues will only be resolved bilaterally, one nation to another. Why? Because they can dominate any nation in this region. This is a violation, I think quite arguably of international law. It is contrary to China's own statements about their willingness to work with Asia to develop some sort of code of conduct. This is very troubling. I would urge the State Department to clarify this situation with China, and also with our body immediately."

Senator Roberts: (1:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Under current law the estate tax is set at 35% on estates over $5 million. If nothing is changed on January 1, 2013, or if you vote for a particular version of these two tax bills that we're going to be considering here in just about an hour and a half, if nothing is changed, the estate tax exemption will drop from $5 million to $1 million and the estate tax rate will jump from 35% to 55%. If we do not act to extend the current death tax structure - I'd like to eliminate it, repeal it, but at least extend it - the Joint Committee on Taxation reports that over ten years, the number of small businesses subject to the death tax would increase from about 1,800 folks to 23,700 and the number of farming estates subject to the death tax would increase from about 9000 farmers and ranchers to 25,200. That's more than 20 times that would be hit with this massive death tax hike, a 2,000% increase. It's not just farmers and ranchers than that would be affected. Nine times more small businesses would be hit with this massive death tax, - a 900% increase. 12 times for taxable estates would be hit, a 1,200% increase The looming 2013 change to the estate tax law would be a huge disservice to agriculture because it is a land-based capital-intensive industry, few options for paying estate taxes when they come due. The current state of our economy coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities makes it tremendously difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make any sound business decisions. They're on the sidelines of our economy. They're not on the economic playing field. Again, there is no certainty. Obviously, raising the estate tax burden will strike a blow to farm and ranch operations trying to transition from one generation to the next. A $1 million exemption ... is not high enough to protect a particular farm or ranch able to support a family and when coupled with the top rate of 55%, that's going to be especially difficult if not impossible for farmers and ranchers and businesses to pass on there where with withal to the next generation. Yet it is in conflict with a desire to protect and reserve family-owned farms and ranches, individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98% of our nation's two million farms and ranches. When estate taxes on an agriculture business exceed cash or other liquid assets, many surviving family partners will be forced to sell land, buildings, or equipment needed to keep their businesses operating. With 85% of farm and ranch assets ill-liquid, producers have few options when it comes to generating cash to general by the way, the estate tax. Recent increases in agriculture land values on average 25% from 2010 to 2011, have greatly expanded the numbers of farms and ranches that top the estate tax exemption. How on earth can farmers, ranchers, and small businesses even plan for this? In order to keep a farm or ranch, businesses operating after the death of the owner, families must plan for the estate tax. But under the majority party bill we will vote on shortly, many more farmers and ranchers will face increased filing, paperwork, other hassles in planning for succession. Not to mention employers and CPA's and estate planners. In fact, if we don't extent the current estate tax the estates required to file paperwork with the IRS rise from about 8,600 to 107,500. That's a lot of time and cost that could be avoided. The planning costs associated with this tax are not only a drain on business resources but also take money away from the day-to-day operations and investing in the business. Even with planning, uncertain tax law combined with changing land values and family situations make it impossible to guarantee that an estate plan will protect a family farm or ranch."

Senator Durbin: (1:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Republicans have a different approach, and they'll offer an amendment. Extend all the tax cuts for everybody, to the highest levels of income, well beyond $250,000. Not just to the 98% of Americans who make $250,000 or less, but 100%. Everybody. Well, their approach, by extending those tax cuts, will mean no deficit reduction. In fact, their approach would add about $900 billion to the deficit compared to the president's approach. So they are really basically throwing a bucket of red ink on this conversation, saying we're prepared to add $900 billion to the deficit so that the top 2% of wage earners can get a tax break. But that isn't all. The Republican approach goes a step further. I don't understand this part of it. He wants to extend the tax cuts to the highest income categories but then he very carefully excises, eliminates some of the basic tax breaks that working families use. Let me be specific. The Hatch-McConnell bill does not extend the earned-income tax credit, child tax credit provisions. And as a result, here's what happens. The Hatch provision which protects the wealthiest in America by saving their tax cut would increase the tax on 11 million working families in America who currently are able to deduct the college tuition expenses of their kids. So while the wealthiest in America will get a break all the way through with the Hatch-McConnell Republican approach, 11 million American families will find their tax bills going up if they have kids in college. What kind of message is that? Here are the students struggling to get through school, families incurring debt. We create a tax benefit to help those families get through, and the Republicans say no, we're going to raise the taxes on 11 million working families. That isn't all. They also raise the taxes on 6 million other families, working families with three or mother children by $800 million, a change they refuse to make and then turn around, they increase the taxes on families with children. The child tax credit currently in the law allows a break for families with kids. A helping hand because kids can be expensive. And this part of the tax code helps these families. So 18 million American families will see their taxes go up with the Hatch-McConnell Republican tax approach that protects those at the highest level of income categories. I don't think that's sensible that's why the president's proposal, the Democratic proposal here that gives the tax cuts and tax breaks to the working families makes a difference. 98% of Americans will benefit from the president's approach. 2% will pay more. 2%, I think, will pay their fair share."

Begich, Franken, Hoeven

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Begich: (11:29 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The bills are very simple. They both cost money. One costs $930 billion over the next ten years, one costs $250 billion ... 97% of the small businesses in this country will not see a tax increase. Will not see a tax increase. Because they're real small business people ... Let's make sure it is clear when we talk about, I don't remember the exact percent, 54% are pass-through dollars he talked about, yeah, because the 3% or the employers over 25 or 50 employees have huge revenue streams. But the small business people in this economy, 97% of them make less than a quarter of a million dollars net income ... We cannot afford their bill. The taxpayers cannot afford their bill. $930 billion over the next ten years plus interest costs Two years ago like I said I supported the extension because I was told that we're going to invest. We're going to grow this economy significantly. Well, we've grown it on the backs of small business people. That's who we've grown this economy on. That's where the fastest growing population of new employees are coming from. To my friend on the a other side, we gave that idea a shot. Didn't really perform I have to say that Thelma and Louise, thank god they were driving an American car because my bet is they landed safely on the other side wherever they went. But the fact is it was in this body, I heard the same arguments on the other side, we can't help our auto industry, we can't help them out of what they're struggling with. We took a risk, calculated risk to support those businesses that manufacture and employ people and today they are thriving because this body said we're going to take the risk. Again, Thelma and Louise, thank you for driving an American car. This is simple. It is about making sure 98% of Americans today continue to have tax relief. It's about 97% of the businesses continuing to have tax relief. Small businesses. It's important that we do this not only for the economy but for these families that are struggling."

Senator Franken: (11:45 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I rise today to urge my colleagues to support our economic recovery, endorse fiscal responsibility and bolster the middle class by voting to extend tax cuts on income up to $250,000. Minnesotans are still struggling and we need to act now so people making under $250,000 can keep their tax cuts. Middle-class families need every bit of help that they can get. At the same time, we need to make sure that the richest 2% of Americans are paying their fair share so we can pay down the deficit. It would be irresponsible not to... Our bill preserves your entire tax cut ... People making over $250,000 would still get a tax cut worth thousands of dollars and it would be larger than anybody else's tax cut. The only portion of their taxes that would increase now ... Would be on any additional income above dollars $250,000 ... Claims that not extending the extra tax breaks for the richest 2% will cause harm to the economy just are not supported by history. Let's take a look at President Clinton ... What really happened in the ensuing years? Not only did we have an unprecedented expansion of our economy for eight years, creating more than 22 million new net jobs at the very tax rate we're talking about, for people over $250,000, but at the same time, we turned the biggest deficit in history to the biggest surplus in history ... There was economic growth in every quartile. We witnessed a decrease in the number of Americans in poverty and we saw the creations of more millionaires and billionaires than ever before."

Senator Hoeven: (12:00 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The president's approach to our economy is making it worse. His failure to join with us in extending the current tax rates and engage in pro-growth tax reform rather than raising taxes is sitting on our economy like a big, wet blanket. But we can change that. We can change that right now. We do it by extending the current tax rates, the tax rates that have been in effect for ten years. By extending the current tax rates for a year by engaging in comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform and also, of course, by getting control of our spending. Business investment and economic activity would respond immediately. Look at the latest information from the congressional budget office. Now, the CBO projects that the economy will contract, will contract by 1.3% annual rate for the first six months of next year if the fiscal cliff is not addressed, meaning the current tax rates which go up at the end of the year unless we address this, an increase in taxes and the sequestration. Now, if those things are addressed with the approach that we put forward instead of an overall .5% growth next year, you're looking at 4.4% growth for our economy. Those are the CBO's statistics. Think of the difference, think of the difference that would make for those 13 million people who are looking for a job. And it just stands to reason because business needs certainty to invest, to grow and to hire people, not higher taxes. And with legal tax and regulatory certainty, businesses in this country would invest. Right now, there is more private capital on the sidelines than any time in the history of our country. Private investment capital that businesses would otherwise invest and get this economy growing and get people back to work is sidelined because of the regulatory burden, because of the government spending and the deficit and because of plans like this to raise taxes. It is that situation that is sidelining private investment and private capital. That means slower economic growth. That means higher unemployment, that means more people without jobs, that means less revenue to reduce our deficit and our debt. So clearly, raising taxes is not the way to go. But President Obama says well, wait a minute, everybody needs to pay their fair share. Well, everyone needs to pay their fair share. Well, of course everyone needs to pay their fair share. But the way to do it is with pro-growth tax reform and with closing loopholes, and that's exactly what we have proposed, not raising taxes on more than one million small businesses in this country, the very job creators in this country, as the president has proposed."

Lieberman, Coons, Hatch

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Lieberman: (10:23 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I'm going to vote against both partial measures and proposals to put off the tough decisions about our economic future that our constituents elected us to major I think both the Democratic plan, which is the subject before us right now on this motion to proceed, and Senator Hatch's plan don't make it. They're partial, and they basically kick the can down the road again without solving our economic problems. And giving the private sector the confidence about our future to invest the trillions of dollars in cash they're sitting on now, which is the only thing that'll get our economy going and creating more jobs in the private sector, businesses won't do that today because they don't know where this government of ours is going. They don't have a sense of certainty and confidence. So, as I said, if for some reason the precedent that the Senate is facing today changes and both the democratic plan to raise taxes on people over $250,000 comes up for a vote and senator hatch's tax hike prevention act, which extends all the tax cuts for another year come up, I'll vote against both of them because I don't think they do what our country needs to be done. There's plenty of time, as I said, left this year to do what we have to do. Now, why am I going to vote to proceed to debate on either or both of these, if I'm opposed to each of them, as they're drafted? It's because I think there's nothing more important we could do in this Congress than to beginning to confront and debate the challenge of our time, which is to get our federal government back in balance, to make the tough decisions that will do that, and thereby to get our economy going and creating jobs again. Debate, yes, let's not hide from debate."

Senator Coons: (10:35 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "We have two starkly different plans. In one, the Republican plan, they extend all of the Bush tax cuts even for the highest income earners, even on the marginal rates of the highest income earners. And the Democrat plan extends and does not allow to expire critical tax cuts, the earned-income tax credit, the tuition tax credit and the child tax credit that 25 million Americans, the working poor, working families with children, rely on to get through this difficult recession. The Republican plan raises taxes on 25 million of the working poor. It should be an obscenity for there to be people who are working full time and yet poor in this country ... Under the Democrat's tax plan, we would continue tax breaks for all Americans who earn income, for all small businesses that are revenue-earning, but just on the first $200,000 individual income or $250,000 couple income. So even the millionaires and billionaires would continue to get some of the benefit of the tax breaks, first enacted in 20001 and 2003. Would what would be raised is the tax rate on income above $200,000 for couples - $250,000 for couples. But the highest reductions in tax burden on the very wealthiest Americans we would allow to expire. What's the impact on our deficit and debt? $850 billion over ten years, which, with the interest savings, is nearly $1 trillion in deficit and debt reduction. These are significant savings. And if we asked the wealthiest 2% of Americans to take on that burden, to go back to the interest rates on marginal income that they lived through in the Clinton era what might that do? Significantly reduce or deficit and debt, make it possible for us to sustain the earned-income tax cut, the tuition tax credit and the child tax credit, and frankly reflect our values. As I said before, this recession has brought an alarming rise in the rate of poverty. I'm someone who believes that our faith traditions - and we come from a very broad range of faith traditions - speak to us and challenge us to show our values in our budget. As the vice president, who held the seat that I hold in Delaware before me has so often said, his father and his grandfather once said to him, "show me your budget and I'll should you your values.""

Senator Hatch: (10:49 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "I do know that from a fiscal and economic perspective, the president's signature proposal threatens serious damage to our already fragile economy. The president's tax increases on those he deems the rich in fact represent a massive tax hike on the small businesses that are necessary for economic and job growth. Moreover, until he gets his way on raising taxes on these small businesses, he is threatening every single American taxpayer with a tax hike. Like a petulant child, he is insisting that it is his way or the highway. We've had far too much of that. He'll get his way on raising taxes on the small business and entrepreneurs who find no shelter in today's Democratic coalition of unions, lawyers, and government employees, or he will let the current tax relief expire, raising taxes on all Americans. Now, this is the antithesis of statesmanship at a time when our economy requires serious deficit reduction. It is the political equivalents of a temper tantrum. I expect that American voters have about as much patient for this as they would a similar fit from their children. The American people want a grown-up in the White House but on tax policy we appear to be dealing with adolescents. I've said before that the president's proposal is the policy equivalent of Thelma and Louise intentionally driving their car off the cliff. There is at least some ambiguity about the fate of Thelma and Louise. If the president gets his way and either raise taxes on small businesses or denies relief to all American taxpayers, there will be no ambiguity about who to hold responsible when our economy crashes ... Economists estimate that if these current tax rates are allowed to expire, the economy could contract by approximately three percentage points. Now, considering that the first quarter GDP growth was and that expectations are even lower for the second quarter growth that will be reported this Friday, going over the fiscal cliff would almost certainly throw us into a recession. And I don't know many economists who would disagree with that. Certainly the Fed doesn't disagree. We're going to go into a recession if the Democrats get their way. We could even slip into recession in the second half of this year, given businesses' reluctance to hire and invest due to fiscal uncertainty."

Johanns, Heller, McConnell

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 25 2012

Senator Johanns: (9:42 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "In a little more than five months the current tax rates are scheduled to expire for every single American, resulting in the largest tax increase in history. It's hard to imagine this massive tax increase is what the president wants. Just two years ago he warned that you absolutely should not raise taxes in a poor economy. Yet today the economy is actually in worse shape. So what does the president do? He calls for raising taxes on job creators, on small business owners filing as individuals, on investment income, on all of those things that actually drive economic prosperity and hiring. The favorite talking point claims that all those making more than $250,000, well, they should just be taxed more. While those families reporting income of more than $250,000 may only make up about 2% of all tax returns, it is these citizens who are the owners of small businesses that employ 25% of America's workforce. These are the same small business owners that created two-thirds of the net jobs in the last decade. I hear from small business owners in Nebraska every day, and they tell me if faced with a more expensive tax bill, they will be forced to cut costs elsewhere. In fact, according to the global accounting firms Ernst & Young, the Democrats' tax plan would result in 710,000 fewer jobs compared to simply keeping the current rate the same for all Americans. Now, the economic wreckage resulting from the tax hike doesn't stop there. In the same study Ernst & Young estimates that these reckless policies will drive wages of hardworking Americans down by 1.8%. Furthermore, investment is estimated to decrease 2.4% as the tax on dividends increases. Well, what's apparent here? What's apparent is that less investment means less economic activity, which means fewer jobs, and it's really that straightforward, it's really that simple."

Senator Heller: (9:54 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "We all live in a country with a temporary tax code. Right now there is no certainty for an entrepreneur to start a new endeavor. There is no certainty for a small business who wants to hire a new employee. There's no certainty for businesses to invest in new equipment or in new buildings. What makes the situation worse is that the American public is now hearing from the majority party that they're willing to take our country off the fiscal cliff regardless of the economic damage it may cause by raising taxes, resulting in a smaller economy, fewer jobs, less investment, and lower wages. President Obama said in 2009, "you don't raise taxes in a recession, because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses further in the hole." You know, I agreed with that statement in 2009, and I agree with that statement today. Let me give my colleagues another quote from President Obama, after he supported extending all of the tax rates for two years in 2010. And I quote, "the bipartisan framework we have forged on taxes will provide businesses with incentives to invest, grow, and hire." I supported this bipartisan framework as a member of the House of Representatives, yet today in a complete 180-degree turn, raising taxes and going over the fiscal cliff seem to be the new economic agenda The plan of the majority party and this president, what they're offering will cost Nevadans 6,000 jobs and shrink the economy $1.7 billion. Nationwide, this plan will hurt more than 700,000 jobs. Is this really the economic strategy Washington should be embracing? My home state of Nevada leads the nation in unemployment at 11.6%. We cannot afford to lose another 6,000 jobs. Divisive partisan politics does a great disservice to every American who is either out of work or taken a pay cut."

Senator McConnell: (10:15 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Ordinarily, Republicans would do everything we can to keep a plan as damaging as the Democrat's plan from passing, and the only reason we won't block it today is because we know it doesn't pass constitutional muster and won't become law. Because it didn't originate in the House. If the Democrats were serious, they'd proceed to a House-originated revenue bill, as the constitution requires. That said, the potential consequences of inaction on this issue are so grave that the American people deserve know where their elected representatives really stand, truly stand on this issue. And so that's why I'm announcing this morning Republicans will allow a simple majority vote on the two proposals I've described. And that's why we're also calling for a simple majority vote on the president's plan. He's the leader of the Democratic party. He's been calling for a vote on his plan. I, for one, think we ought to give the president what he is a he asking for: a vote on his plan. So what I'm saying here this morning is we'll have a simple majority vote on the Senate Democratic plan, on the Republican plan to make sure no one's income taxes go up at the end of the year, and I would also recommend we have a simple majority vote on the president's plan. The only way to force people to take a stand is to make sure that today's votes truly count. By setting these votes at the a 50-vote threshold, nobody on the other side can hide behind a procedural vote whole leaving their views on the actual bill itself a mystery, a simple mystery to the people who sent them here. That's what today's votes are all about, about showing the people who sent us here where we stand. We owe it to the American people to let them know whether we actually think it is a good idea to double down on the failed economic policies of the past few years or whether we support a new approach, whether we think it is a good idea to raise taxes on nearly a million business owners at a moment when millions of Americans are struggling to find work or to do no harm and commit to future reform. Three votes, two visions. Three votes, two visions. The American people should know where we stand, and today they will."

Reid

Opening Remarks

Jul 25 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill. The time until 2:15 PM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "For the third time in as many weeks Republicans are poised to kill a tax cut without ever debating it on the Senate floor. Two weeks ago Republicans filibustered legislation to cut taxes for small businesses. Last week they filibustered a bill to end tax breaks for corporations to ship jobs overseas and to cut taxes in our companies and move jobs back to America. Now they're filibustering our plan to cut taxes for 114 million middle-class families. Not one of these bills has gotten a debate on the Senate floor, so let's look at what led to this latest Republican filibuster. Two weeks ago Senator McConnell came to the Senate floor to ask for two votes, one on the Democratic plan to cut taxes for 98% of American families and reduce the deficit by about $1 trillion. The other vote he wanted was the one on the Republican plan to raise taxes by $1,000 each for 25 million middle-class families while handing out tax breaks to millionaires of $160,000 each. That afternoon I told the majority leader the Democrats were willing to give Republicans what they wanted, those two votes. Although it had been only a few short hours since Senator McConnell asked for those two votes, my offer was refused. He said he had to see our proposal first. It seemed like a thin excuse at the time, he hadn't seen our proposal when he asked for the votes in the first place. But others within his caucus and staff had seen it of course. But I took the minority leader at his word. So Democrats produced legislation in legislative form. Offered once again to vote on our bill, the Republicans plan, middle-class taxes. Again they refused the up-or-down votes that they had asked for. This time they wanted a third vote now on a different plan, we're told. We have President Obama's tax plan before us. I'm not going to make up some tax plan of the president they said they're going to do. We have President Obama's tax plan. We have worked hand in glove for him now for months to come to the body with what we have today. So this third vote is, again, a charade."
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will allow us to debate a crucial Cybersecurity bill before the end of this month. We hope to have a vote on this as early as tomorrow or the next day. Cybersecurity, a new word, but there is nothing more important to national security than doing something about Cybersecurity. If we do not pass this legislation that is now before the Senate, if we don't do something about this, we're told by the experts that it's not a question of if. It's a question of when. This legislation is extremely important. National security experts from the left, the right and center say weaknesses in our cyber defenses are among the greatest threats facing our nation and some say it's the greatest threat facing our nation. Congress must act rapidly to address this issue."
  • Spoke on Iran.
    • SUMMARY "The House and Senate must also act before Congress leaves for August recess to pass the final version of legislation initial initiating new Iran sanctions. The Congress has been hard at work to complete this agreement. I've been clear I expect the negotiation to conclude soon so we can further tighten these sanctions against Iran. Sanctions are critical. It's a critical tool to help stop Iran's nuclear weapons program and ensuring the security of our ally, the state of Israel."

Jul 25 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jul 25 2012

The Senate is considering the motion to proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' tax bill.  Republican senators continue to focus on creating jobs, lowering the deficit, reducing gas prices, and replacing the Democrats' health care bill with reforms that will actually lower costs.