Mr. DAYTON. Mr. President, I also wish to comment on what happened last week to the so-called JOBS Act which disappeared from the Senate floor. One minute last week we were voting on the JOBS bill, and the next minute it was gone-outsourced, I guess. It was replaced by other legislation which we acted upon last week. Today we are on to yet another measure before the Senate.
We have not been told when this JOBS Act might reappear or even if it is coming back at all, which means, I guess, the JOBS Act has suffered the same fate as some 2.25 million jobs during President Bush's term because they, too, have disappeared. No one knows when or even if they are coming back.
It is clear now that the President's previous proposals enacted by Congress-tax cuts for the rich and the super rich and for large, multilarge corporations-have not stopped the loss of American jobs, and they have not brought them back. One out of every six manufacturing jobs in the United States has disappeared in the last 3 years, and the number of manufacturing jobs in this country is now the lowest it has been in 53 years. Over 8 million Americans are unemployed. The average length of unemployment is the longest it has been in 20 years in this country.
So the administration must have a plan, a policy, to stimulate job creation in this urgent situation; right? Wrong. The Secretary of the Treasury Snow testified before Congress just 2 weeks ago that the lack of job recovery is "a mystery" to him. The President has stated that his No. 1 priority is to make his tax changes permanent when they expire in the year 2011.
In the debate over the budget resolution on the Senate floor 2 weeks ago, our colleagues across the aisle said their No. 1 priority was to accelerate the date for eliminating the estate tax from 2010 to 2009. So the No. 1 economic problem facing the Nation today is the loss of jobs and the lack of their recovery, and Republican priorities are more tax treats for the rich and the super rich in the years 2009 and 2010. I guess the rich and the super rich do not really need more money anyway, so they can afford to wait 5 years or more to get it. But the 8 million Americans out of work cannot wait that long.
So there is this cloud of complete unreality surrounding Republican economic policies these days. It is as though all the country is on reality TV and they are still on Fantasy Island. Meanwhile, our Democratic caucus is being blocked from even voting on measures that would provide help and jobs to Americans who need them right now.
No. 1, we need to extend unemployment benefits because 786,000 Americans exhausted their unemployment benefits during January and February alone. In just those 2 months, over three-quarters of a million Americans exhausted their unemployment benefits, meaning they and their families have no source of income right now.
In the name of humanity, how can we do nothing to relieve that kind of human pain and suffering?
Secondly, the House of Representatives must pass the transportation funding bill, and the President must either sign it or veto it so that we can override that veto now. The Senate bill we passed almost a month ago would mean significantly more construction projects, and therefore thousands more jobs all over America, starting now, in this construction season, which does not last very long in northern States such as Minnesota, are just about to get underway.
The President and the House have been tossing that bill back and forth like it is a Sunday Frisbee game. Here is an immediate job-creating opportunity, and they are dawdling and dickering because I guess it is not their jobs, at least not yet.
The third measure we must undertake is to protect the jobs and incomes of those who are now working, especially the 8 million workers the Secretary of Labor has decided all by herself no longer have to be paid overtime. That number includes police officers, nurses, firefighters, and laborers. What do we tell them and their families? Sorry, you did not contribute enough to the necessary reelection committees, but the people who employ you do?
The Congress has already cut their personal taxes, their dividends tax, their capital gains tax, and now they are going to be eliminating their estate tax even earlier than before.
They are a greedy bunch and they want more. This is an election year and campaigns are expensive so, sorry, now in America you will not even be able to earn extra money by working harder. You cannot get ahead because those special friends want to get farther ahead without having to work at all.
Fourth, we need to bring back the JOBS Act, which reportedly was pulled from the Senate floor last week because it would have involved a vote of the Senate on this very protection of overtime measure. The truth is, as that evidences, the sponsors of the so-called JOBS Act do not want votes on that and other amendments because, in fact, the secret is that bill is not about jobs at all.
Only in Washington would something named the JOBS Act have nothing to do with creating jobs, and I mean absolutely nothing. The people who wrote that bill only want the American people to think this is a JOBS Act. They want the 8 million Americans who do not have jobs right now to think this is a JOBS Act so they will think: Oh, what a Congress. Our country needs jobs, so Congress passes a JOBS Act.
Well, as Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and what better time to try than right around election time.
The truth is, this bill is a tax cut for already profitable businesses, and the largest tax reductions take place, once again, in those years 2009 to 2012. So, obviously, it has nothing to do with providing jobs now.
That is the bill's best part. Other parts increase the tax avoidance schemes for foreign business operations. There are $36 billion in tax breaks for profits made producing goods and providing services in other countries, employing foreigners not Americans. Now that sure makes sense. We are losing American jobs in record numbers to foreign operations so the Senate is going to give more tax advantages to those foreign operations so they can take away more American jobs? Is the JOBS Act intended to add American jobs or eliminate them?
I hope my colleagues will take a look at some of the foreign business favors in this bill before we vote on them. It increases the kind of commodities hedging that is exempt from U.S. taxation. It eliminates rules that are meant to restrict the deferral of foreign income by foreign investment companies and foreign personal holding companies from U.S. taxation. It eliminates withholding taxes on dividends paid by certain foreign corporations. There are many more of those foreign favors in the bill. As I said, $36 billion worth of tax avoidance or tax elimination schemes which benefit wealthy Americans who invest in them, or American companies who own and operate them, which reward foreign business production and sales, not American production; increase jobs outside of our country and decrease jobs or job opportunities for American workers.
The JOBS Act, as it is presently written, is a fraud. It is not an American JOBS Act. It is not even an American business act. It is a special-favors-for-special-friends act.
In the 3 years I have been in the Senate, Congress has tried fooling the American people with some mighty foolish legislation, such as No Child Left Behind, pretending to improve the quality of education for all schoolchildren. Additional testing was to be accompanied by additional Federal funding, especially for those students most in need. Well, Minnesotans will not be fooled anymore, not now that we have learned just this last few weeks that title I funds in Minnesota will be cut by as much as 40 percent in school districts that have an increased number of eligible students.
The prescription drug bill that was passed last year pretended to offer comprehensive coverage and substantial financial assistance to seniors and others on Medicare. That prescription drug bill will not fool the seniors, not in Minnesota for sure, and I do not think in America, when in a few more months the prescription drug discount cards come out and when the shamefully inadequate coverage finally begins in January of 2006. But do not try to fool unemployed Americans that the JOBS Act is a jobs creation bill, and do not try to fool working Americans that it is a jobs protection bill. As President Lincoln said: You cannot fool all the people all the time.
Congress is badly out of touch with the American people. So let's return to reality. Let's return to the reality that Americans need more jobs. Let's pass a JOBS Act that really is a JOBS Act, where every provision is designed to reward American companies for adding American jobs now-not in the year 2009, not in 2012, but now.
I strongly urge the majority leader to bring back the JOBS Act for Senate action now. I urge my colleagues to remove every section that does not add jobs in America right now and replace them with ones that do. We need jobs in America for Americans now. Let us stop trying to fool people and let us help put them back to work.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, I could not help but think, as my colleague from Minnesota was delivering a wonderful and inspiring set of remarks, that is it not interesting, I would say to the Senator from Minnesota, that the old labels of liberal and conservative do not mean anything anymore. The American people are catching on because what they want is performance. They do not want people just pegged into these neat little categories, these labels, because as the Senator has so eloquently stated, the old labels do not perform because it is not business as usual. Whether it be the White House or the Congress or the State legislatures or the Governors, those labels do not mean anything. In fact, those labels are being turned absolutely upside down in this particular year, for we find ourselves voting on things that some critics would want to claim are liberal, but is it liberal to want to lower the annual deficit so the national debt does not increase by half a trillion dollars a year? To the contrary, that is conservative fiscal policy.
As the Senator has said so eloquently, is it liberal or conservative to want to provide jobs for Americans? It is neither. It is good, common sense-performance for our people.
Is it liberal or conservative to want to stop the flight of jobs to other countries, that overworked word of "outsourcing"? I say to the Senator from Minnesota, there is going to be another twist on the question of outsourcing when they start outsourcing the jobs to the point at which they are handling personally identifiable medical and personally identifiable financial information of which our laws in this country protect its privacy, but in India or in China there are no laws that protect that privacy. When our people suddenly find that their very sensitive personal medical records are suddenly made available on the worldwide Web because there is no protection of privacy because those jobs have been outsourced to India or to China, they are going to have another think coming, as we would say in the South.
So the old labels don't mean anything anymore. Is it liberal to support the environment? I would say that is conservative. I would say when you become a good steward of what the good Lord has endowed us with, which is this beautiful planet suspended in the middle of nothing with a thin little film enveloping the planet called an atmosphere, and when you despoil that air, when you despoil the water, and when you rape the land, it is conservative to want to protect that environment, but that is not the label, liberal or conservative.
I am glad the Senator has given his speech about jobs. I am going to continue to give my speeches about what it is not to be liberal or conservative, not to be partisan, but to try to perform for the American people and perform for the States we are privileged to represent.
Mr. DAYTON. If the Senator will yield, I thank him for his encouraging words. I also point out he is, I believe, the only Senator, maybe the only Member of Congress, who has been an astronaut. The Senator's perspective on those resources and the need to conserve is certainly unsurpassed. I thank the Senator for his remarks.
Mr. NELSON of Florida. The Senator is very kind. I must admit I became more of an environmentalist when I went into space because I got to see the entire ecosystem at once. I got to see how beautiful it is, yet how fragile it is. From that perspective, when I looked at the rim of the Earth and saw that thin little film which is the atmosphere, I came home from that space flight absolutely committed that I wanted to do my part to be a better steward of what the good Lord has given us. He has given us this beautiful planet in the middle of nothing. Space is nothing. Space is an airless vacuum that goes on and on for billions and billions of light-years, and there in the midst of it is our home, our planet.
One of the reasons I want to go to Mars-of course I myself won't have that opportunity. That ought to be over the course of the next 30 years. I would like to think that at my age, at that time, I would still be physically fit to go to Mars, but that is for the next generation. But one of the reasons I am so intrigued about going to Mars is what the two Rovers up there right now have been discovering in the last few days, that in fact there was water there. If there were water, then there was likely life. If there were life, how developed was it? And if it were developed, was it civilized? And if it were civilized, what happened? What can we learn from what happened there so that we can become better stewards of our planet?
Is that liberal or conservative? It is neither. It is good common sense. In fact, it is. It is conservative, coming from the word "conserve," the environment. Yet all these groups that come out here and rate you on how you vote and say because you are voting for clean water and clean air, that is somehow a liberal vote?
That is my point. The old labels don't mean anything anymore. I think that is beginning to penetrate in the American public. What they want is performance by their elected officials, all the way from the White House to the courthouse.