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Public Statements

FAA Air Transportation Modernization And Safety Improvement Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Tennessee, who is not only a former Governor but also a former Secretary of Education. The Senator has framed the question adequately and very accurately, and that is this: Why should the Federal Government be saying to the States: We are going to give you some money, but we are going to attach to this money a whole lot of strings? And the basic strings are these: Unless you spend a heck of a lot more money, you are not going to get this money.

It does appear that it is focused on a special interest group, does it not, the teachers unions? It appears this is more or less a commitment to take care of this constituency out there at the expense, ironically, of a lot of people who are employed in those States.

We use the term ``multinational corporation'' around here as if that is some sort of evil empire. I have a few multinational corporations in New Hampshire--I suspect the Senator does in Tennessee--and they employ people. If you raise their taxes by $10 billion, they are going to employ a lot less or they are going to send them overseas. We used to hear around here constantly about outsourcing--outsourcing jobs. This bill is a job outsourcer.

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Mr. ALEXANDER. The Senator is exactly right. The National Association of Manufacturers says there are 22 million Americans who are hired by companies that do business not only in the United States but overseas.

I say to the Senator from New Hampshire, I think we want companies that are principally in the United States that do business overseas because what is the alternative? The alternative is they are in Singapore or they are in Great Britain or they are in other countries around the world and they are not in our country. They are not paying taxes here, and they are not hiring people here.

I see the distinguished Senator from Kentucky has arrived. The Senator from New Hampshire and I are in the midst of a fascinating discussion, but we think we will step down while he makes his remarks.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to the Senators, go ahead and finish the fascinating discussion.

Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I want to get back to the essence of what the Senator from Tennessee is saying. It goes to this point.

People look at this and say: Oh, my goodness, there is a whole bunch of money coming to this State. What is it coming for and who it is paying? This money does not grow on trees and gets picked up in the morning by trucks that drive by and drop it off. This money is taken from somebody else to be used for this purpose. When you go to the essence of what this bill is about, it is to pay off education unions. That is what this is about. Let's not be coy about what is happening around here. The education unions were the single biggest interest group represented at the Democratic National Convention. I think 26 percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention were teachers, members of teachers unions. They probably were not teachers; they probably were administrators.

What is happening here? A lot of States are trying to reorganize their budgets because they are in hard times. Most States are not able to print money--none are--the way the Federal Government does. So they actually have to be fiscally disciplined.

What they are saying to all the different categories within their States is: We are going to adjust here. They are actually going through a very aggressive--I know it is happening in New Hampshire, I know it is happening in Tennessee, and I suspect it is happening in most States--they are going through a very aggressive process of ordering priorities and making tough decisions so they can get their house in order relative to such things as the cost of education. But that has upset the teachers unions.

Now we get a bill on the floor of the Senate to basically put the States in a position where they will have to maintain the teachers union status relative to employees and actually add to it at the expense of the employers in those States and the people who go to work in those States, at the expense of the companies that are deemed ``multinationals.''

In New Hampshire, we have a lot of companies that are multinational. We are quite proud of that. We are proud of the fact we are an export-oriented State, that a lot of our major employers--in fact, I suspect our top five major employers are all deemed multinationals. They are not going to be able to hire as many people in New Hampshire because of the fact that they are going to get hit with this huge tax bill, the purpose of which is not actually to improve the situation--the States are working on that--the purpose of which is to take care of a constituency group that happens to have a significant amount of influence. It is called a special interest, unless it happens to be a liberal group and then they are called concerned citizens or something.

But in this case it is a special interest group, and this bill is nothing more than a payoff to a special interest group at the expense of another group who happens to employ people and have workers in New Hampshire.

Mr. ALEXANDER. The Senator has been talking about education. There is another important part of the bill--$16 billion to Medicaid. This is the Federal program to which, now with the new health care law, more than 70 million people will belong in 2014. But here is what the bill also does. According to a Wall Street Journal article on May 20, because of this bill--and as a result of this bill, if it should pass--States will be limited in their ability to make changes in the Medicaid Program to save money.

So what does that mean?

Mr. GREGG. If the Senator will yield for a question, is the Senator saying the Federal Government is going to say: If you want this money, you can't improve the program?

Mr. ALEXANDER. It is not just me saying it. The Lieutenant Governor of New York, Richard Ravitch, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal on June 7 where he said he greatly appreciated the stimulus money--and this is the same problem--but because of these requirements that prohibit Governors and legislatures from making changes in the law to save money, he says the net result is the Federal stimulus--and this bill is just the son of stimulus or the daughter of stimulus--has led States to increase overall spending in these core areas, to increase spending.

So the point of what we are doing is to cause States to increase spending, said the Lieutenant Governor of New York, which in effect has only raised the height of the cliff from which State spending will fall if stimulus funds evaporate.

Mr. McCONNELL. Would the Senator from Tennessee yield for a question?

Mr. ALEXANDER. Of course.

Mr. McCONNELL. I was not here for the beginning of the discussion between the Senator from New Hampshire and the Senator from Tennessee, but I recently had an opportunity to speak to the National State Legislators convention, which happened to have been in my hometown of Louisville. Speaker Pelosi was there as well. My staff, in doing research and putting together my remarks, discovered that currently the single biggest source of revenue for State governments is to borrow money that is coming down from Washington. They are getting more from us than their sales taxes, their income taxes, and their property taxes. The States are simply becoming completely dependent upon us.

As I have heard both of my colleagues point out, we are sending this borrowed money down essentially so they do not have to make the tough decisions they would otherwise have to make. So I would ask my friends: When does it end? When does this dependency come to an end? I thought last year it was supposed to be timely, temporary, and targeted.

Mr. GREGG. The Senator's point is very important because 41 cents of every dollar we are sending back to the States--and as the Senator says, the majority of State money is now Federal money that we are sending down, as the Senator outlined--is borrowed from China or from the Middle East. Our people are going to have to pay all this back. We don't have that money to be sending to the States.

In this bill, at least there is an attempt to pay for it. But the way they pay for it is by penalizing job creators and forcing people to outsource jobs which, again, comes back to harm us for no purpose that seems to be practical other than to have the Federal Government step in and try to control the manner in which these various programs are run in the States and to reward constituencies who happen to be very supportive of the other party.

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Mr. GREGG. I thought I put us into a quorum call.

Mr. President, at this time I intend to make a point of order. Actually, there are two points of order pending against this bill dealing with the budget. The budget is violated. It is not my budget--I didn't vote for the budget. The Democratic budget is violated two times by this bill.

I am not going to make both because it would be redundant to have a vote on both. It wouldn't be redundant, actually. There are two different points of order, and they are both fairly significant. So I will just make one because I do think we should be on record.

If this Congress is going to pass a budget, which it did in the last session--it has not done one in this session; it should--we should maintain the discipline of that budget. That is why we did the budget. And it is not my budget; it is your budget. So I am just suggesting that you follow your budget, if you are Members of the Democratic Party.

So with that point, I would make a point of order that section 404(a) of the 2010 budget resolution makes it out of order to consider legislation that increases the deficit by more than $10 billion in the Senate for any fiscal year covered by the most recently agreed to congressional budget resolution, S. Con. Res. 13.

The pending amendment would increase the short-term deficit in excess of $10 billion in the following year: 2011. Therefore, I raise a point of order under section 404(a) of S. Con. Res. 13 against the pending amendment.

I would note that this exceeds the budget resolution by, I believe, about $10 billion. That is how much it is out of kilter relative to what we said we would spend.

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Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I made a point of order dealing with the budget and the fact that this bill violates the budget, so I find myself once again rising with enthusiasm to defend the Democratic budget because that is what this bill violates. It is the Democratic budget that is violated in this bill. It increases the deficit in 2011 by $22 billion. That is not small change anywhere in this country. So $22 billion is what the budget deficit increase is next year as a result of this bill. That is why it violates the Democratic budget.

I congratulate my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for putting in place this point of order. I presume they would want to defend their own budget and defend this point of order because they do not want to run up the deficit by $22 billion in 2011.

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