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Public Statements

Congressional Budget for the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET FOR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I wish to ask the Senator from California a question. I have been reading in the business magazines and the newspapers about the jobless recovery we are having and I wonder, if the Senator from California feels so passionately about creating jobs in this country, if she could give me a historical perspective about what we are talking in job creation in the last 3 years.

Mrs. BOXER. I thank the Senator for asking this question. I have never known that we have offered such a comprehensive jobs amendment on a budget resolution. These are not ordinary times.

My friend is right when he asked this question. If we go back over time to Herbert Hoover in the Depression years in the 1930s, that is the only time we have actually lost jobs. We have created jobs under Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and now we are down to this and we have seen 3 million jobs lost. We need a jobs amendment.

Mr. PRYOR. If the Senator will yield for another question, I notice in all the statistics, small business is the sector of the economy that creates jobs and R&D is critical for creating jobs; also, the area we are struggling in in this country is manufacturing jobs.

Again, the Senator from California is so passionate on this issue. I would like to hear the Senator's perspective and how this amendment will help those sectors.

Mrs. BOXER. Clearly, we give tax breaks in this amendment to small businesses that pay or help pay for their employees' health benefits.

When we talk to people, they are scared about the cost of health insurance. They are frightened. They are frightened that the costs are going up, that they may lose it, not to mention their entanglements with HMOs that want to walk away.

We say to employers, employees, we will help if, in fact, you pay for your employees' health care, or at least part of it.

We also give a manufacturing jobs tax credit. And this is Senator Kerry's idea.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PRYOR. Madam President, will the Senator would yield for another question?

Mrs. BOXER. I am happy to yield.

Mr. PRYOR. So it seems you are providing tax relief for companies that are trying to, in effect, stimulate the economy and trying to create jobs in this country. Again, as I understand economic principles and the reality of this economy, it is small businesses that create jobs in this country. With all due respect to the top 500 or 1,000 companies-we love to have them, and I am proud of what they do-it is the small businesses, when you are talking about the bread-and-butter job creation, that do that.

I know the Senator's amendment would help small businesses considerably, not just in the manufacturing sector but in other areas.

I would just like you to comment on that.

Mrs. BOXER. Absolutely.

This health care tax credit is very important as well.

In my State, my small businesses that do the right thing by their employees are being hurt. We ought to recognize if you do the right thing, you ought to get rewarded for it. So that is why we do this.

I say to my friend, he is right; this jobs amendment helps workers and helps businesses. It is a balanced approach.

Here is how we encourage the creation of American jobs: We provide tax credits to companies that create new jobs. We provide tax credits to help small businesses pay for health insurance. We expand funding to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Advanced Technology Program, which really helps small businesses in an enormous way. What we do with these programs is we help them go from the research part of things to the marketing part of things. It has been a huge success.

Unfortunately, the President has zeroed out the ATP. I cannot understand it. This is something our businesspeople really want.

Also, as to basic scientific research, we see it in the budget, but it is mostly for defense weapons programs. We do not have it on the civilian side.

Again, coming from a State-I am sure your State has them, as well-with very entrepreneurial people, who really can take off from scientific research, it is very important.

I say to my friend, we pay for this. We pay for this by ending-this is Senator Dorgan's idea-we end the tax break for companies that move offshore. Oh, yes, they are creating jobs, but they are creating jobs offshore. And we pay for it by saying to the millionaires-people who make over $1 million a year-we are saying to those folks: Instead of getting $127,000 a year back, can you take $85,000 a year back? That is still 7.5 times more than a worker at the minimum wage.

So this is a golden moment for this Senate to come together across party lines on behalf of our small businesses, on behalf of our workers, and create jobs.

I have already shown my colleague the historic proportions of this moment in history in which we find ourselves: the worst record since Herbert Hoover, the only Presidency since Herbert Hoover not to create jobs. This is an extraordinary moment. We need to take a moment to realize if a millionaire gets back $85,000 instead of $127,000, that is not a great sacrifice to make for putting people to work, for giving a lift to small business.

Mr. PRYOR. Madam President, I just have one more observation to make, and I will be glad to yield the floor. It seems to me our economy is changing. As a Congress, we need to recognize that, we need to understand that, and try to harness that change in a positive way for our economy.

One area our economy has changed quite a bit in the last several years is we have gone more and more to a service-oriented economy rather than just purely a manufacturing economy. Back in the 1960s, the Congress passed something called Trade Adjustment Assistance. What it did is it provided sort of a package of various programs for workers who had been dislocated-who had been downsized, in today's vernacular.

What I think we ought to do, and what this amendment does-and I think it is very smart to do this and move in that direction-is it gives workers in the service industries those same TAA benefits.

The reason I think that is important is because a much larger percentage of our economy is now based on the service industries, and what we are seeing is the trend that those service jobs are moving offshore. We have heard about call centers and other things going offshore. That is exactly what we are seeing.

So, here again, the Boxer amendment acknowledges the economic reality today and tries to help people who need help most.

Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, I thank my friend because he is exactly right. This outsourcing is a very tough issue. I say to my friend, before he goes to his committee hearing, I met a young man in California who had an excellent job as a computer program manager. He is a newlywed and very excited about his life. He finds out he is being fired, not because he is not a good employee-he is a great employee, terrific-but because his job is being outsourced to another country. And the person over there is going to get a quarter of what he makes. Now, here is the real kicker. He is told he has to train his replacement.

I have to say, this is what is happening all over America. If we cannot take a stand in this budget which reflects all of our priorities as a nation, if we cannot take a stand for America's workers and America's small businesses, I do not know why we are here. What are we here for?

I ask my friend again to look at this chart which shows that the smallest share of the population is at work since 1994. This is not a good chart when you translate it into real lives of real people-and we know the stories in our States: a mother wakes up worried because her company says it no longer will pay health care-that is why we give a health care tax credit in this amendment-a gentleman, as I described, is told by his boss: You are losing your job. It is being outsourced, and you have to train your replacement. This is what is happening in America.

I know some colleagues are here who would like to be heard on this amendment, which I am very pleased about.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, last year right about this time I stood in the Senate chamber questioning why an administration that talks so much about the importance of homeland security and first responders would submit a budget that so drastically shortchanges their needs. I find myself 1 year later still asking the same questions but hearing no good answers.

Specifically as it pertains to community policing and other law enforcement programs, this budget shortchanges smaller communities and grossly under funds programs that have put more police officers on the street, reduced crime in rural areas, curbed drug abuse and put at-risk youth back on the right track.

Instead of strengthening these programs-programs that we know work-we are pulling the rug right out from under our communities' feet. Under the budget proposal, the COPS program would see a reduction from $756 million to $44 million-a staggering 94 percent cut.

Let me be clear: Taking away COPS funding will mean less police officers on our streets; it will mean less resource officers in our schools preventing violence and drug abuse; It will also mean longer response times and higher crime rates. This is tradeoff we should never even consider, yet alone go through with.

Since 1994, my State received $88.4 million in COPS grants, which has funded 1,289 additional police officers and sheriff deputies, 112 school resource officers and more than $11 million in crime-fighting technologies. Arkansas is not alone; I ask if there is a Senator among us that would contest that their State has benefited from the COPS program.

We can't be serious about law enforcement by paring this successful program to $44 million. Texas alone received nearly $30 million from the COPS program last year. How are we going to fund the entire country's COPS needs using the budget of what just one State received last year?

When I was the Attorney General of my State, I worked closely with law enforcement to make Arkansas a safer place to live and raise a family. One thing I know for sure, these police officers operate under tight budgets with smaller staffs than most of their urban counterparts. Nevertheless, they put their lives on the line every day and we need to make sure they have adequate resources to do their jobs properly.

I recently talked with several Arkansas police chiefs about the proposed cuts to the COPS program. They told me how important this program was in their continuing battle to stop the production of methamphetamine throughout Arkansas.

Chief James Allen of the Bentonville Police department said the COPS program has been the biggest single factor in helping his region fight the environmental and social problems created by methamphetamine use.

Last year alone, Arkansas police shut down 1,208 meth labs, but more are popping up each day.

Methamphetamine spreads so easily because it is cheap and easy to produce. It is also extremely addictive and it is tearing rural communities apart. Law enforcement officials have told me that if Congress reduces COPS funding by 94 percent, we would effectively decimate their ability to battle this deadly drug.

These law enforcement officers are making a huge difference in our communities and on top of that, they play the integral part in our homeland defense as first responders.

COPS grants have played a critical role in providing additional manpower, technology and training-all of which are necessary to enhance community security and contribute to the overall goal of national domestic preparedness. The Chief of Police in Pine Bluff, AR Daniel Moses characterized his Homeland Security Overtime grant as a godsend.

September 11 made us acutely aware of the need of genuine partnerships that involve all segments of our communities and all levels of government-we all have a role in keeping our community safe.

Our local law enforcement must be able to respond to whatever may confront them in the future, but how can they properly respond, when they are given a budget that cuts deep into their existence?

I would also like to note that in my State, a number of police officers on the front lines of crime prevention are also fighting on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are pulling double duty for our country in the Reserves and National Guard. But at the same time, their absence has spread our police forces even thinner.

We need to build on what we know works. These law enforcement programs work. But don't take my word for it. Take the word of Attorney General John Ashcroft who said not two years ago:

Since law enforcement agencies began partnering with citizens through community policing we've seen significant drops in crime rates.

Mr. President, our communities, the people we represent have truly benefited from these programs and taking away its funding would be a major step backwards in our efforts to fight crime.

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