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Mr. BROWN of Massachusetts. Mr. President, I am a little under the weather, so if my voice fades in and out, I will do my best to muscle through it. It has been a tough three against one in a battle like I will have to do for the next half hour.
I enjoyed the signs. I didn't bring one. Maybe I can borrow that sign because I agree, it should be made in America. How are we going to do that when we make America uncompetitive, when we don't give America the tools and the resources businesses need to be competitive worldwide? This is not a U.S. economy solely where we just sell to Americans; we have to sell and compete worldwide.
I know I have said this before, but I am the new guy. I am the second newest guy here now. What I have observed is that there is plenty of blame to go around. We talk about President Clinton and everything wonderful he did. Yes, he did some great things, but he did it with a Republican Congress and their help as well. It was a bipartisan effort to solve problems. Unless I am mistaken, the majority party has been in the majority for the last 5 years, with the Presidency for almost 2 years. You don't hear about the problems we have had since that happened. I say there is plenty of blame to go around. Quite frankly, the rhetoric is white-hot. We should try to solve problems instead of pointing fingers at each other and saying that back then this happened or back then that happened and we should do it this way or that way. We have to focus on today, what is happening today.
Right now, we are not competitive. To think this effort to so-called close a corporate loophole is going to help--have you actually gone out to businesses and asked: Will this help you? Are you in favor of this?
It doesn't work unless we also lower the corporate tax rates to make them competitive worldwide; otherwise, if we keep the corporate tax rate the second highest in the world, we are just going to chase huge amounts of jobs overseas. We are going to exacerbate the problem we are experiencing now.
I often wonder, why does it take the Chinese less than a year to build, say, a 500,000-square-foot building? I have experiences with shopping malls, just to put on an addition, and it takes years, the siting, the permitting, the regulation at the local level, the harassment businesses get. If you are a business or a corporation, the mentality is that you are evil, that you are not good. We should be embracing businesses for employing. What is a corporation? Last I heard, it is a group of individuals forming together to take advantage of protections and opportunities to expand and be competitive globally. Since when did being a corporation become a bad name in Washington? Am I missing something? How do you think we are going to get out of this economic mess? It is not going to be by hammering corporations and small mom-and-pop businesses and raising taxes in the middle of a 2-year recession. Are you kidding me? It makes no sense. High taxation, overregulation, reregulation, siting, permitting--take the municipal laws and regulations, couple them with State laws and regulations and Federal laws and regulations, then throw in the EPA just for the heck of it, or any other agency--the National Labor Relations Board; just pick an agency--then throw in the taxation levels at the city and town levels, State levels, the Federal level. Why do you get out of bed to turn on the lights? Are you kidding me? What is the incentive for people to actually keep jobs in the United States of America?
In Massachusetts, the NFIB and AIM, Associate Industries of Massachusetts, have deemed Massachusetts the worst business climate in decades. That feeling is around the country. When I got elected, they sent a very powerful message. They were tired of business as usual in Washington, the disconnect when we deal with taxes and regulation and debt and spending. You don't seem to have learned the lesson.
We are going to do something right now where we are going to offer a little piece of candy by offering a potential tax break for closing a corporate loophole. The majority party is apparently protecting Main Street. Isn't that nice. Apparently, I, the new guy here, am protecting Wall Street, apparently, and big corporations. I didn't know that. I thought I was fighting for the people of Massachusetts to get this body working together to solve real problems.
Enough of the rhetoric. Enough of the blame. Enough of the posturing for the upcoming November elections. How about just solving problems? How about getting our country moving again and get us competing globally?
We just can't wave a magic wand and all of a sudden the tax policy in the United States is competitive with the world. If we do this, if we move this forward, we will be in deep, deep trouble, especially if we don't mirror it with a corporate tax rate reduction to counter the moves that will absolutely happen almost overnight.
If you think that by doing this, jobs are going to come flooding back--if you fire a foreign worker and hire a U.S. worker, you get a tax credit. Oh, that will really work. How about if you do this, you get a payroll tax reduction. Correct me if I am wrong, I made that offer about 3 months ago, a payroll tax reduction paid for by unallocated stimulus dollars. I got four votes.
Want to talk about jolting the economy and giving money to people? Want to talk about helping corporations and businesses stay competitive? How about making the R&D tax credits permanent. How about fixing that 1099 mess? How about accelerated deappreciation for small and medium-size businesses to give them incentives to create jobs? Do you know how much money is on the sidelines? I have done my homework. In this position, I have to be prepared or else. Do you know how much money is actually on the sidelines?
Corporations and businesses are saying: You know what, the health care bill, that is going to cost me about $440 million.
One corporation in Massachusetts, one of the biggest employers, has the market on a device that saves people's lives; hires, I guess, about 25,000 people throughout the world. If we do this, if we close this loophole, so-called, those jobs that were in Massachusetts in the United States are going. So let me see, it costs them $200 million because they are a medical device company. Then with the implementation of the health care bill, that is another $240 million. So that is $440 million. So where does that come from? R&D, employees, expansion? Why would they hire or even talk about hiring workers? Why?
That is just one effort, one thing that has been passed by this Congress and this administration to crush jobs. It crushes Massachusetts' businesses and jobs. We already had 98 percent of our people insured. Now we are getting lesser coverage, potentially longer lines, $ 1/2 trillion in Medicare cuts. Give me a break. There is no end in sight. The true numbers are coming out.
So why would a corporation or a mom-and-pop business or anybody who is even thinking of starting a business make that effort? Why would they even bother to open the door? There is the high cost of doing business, transportation costs, energy costs. They are concerned about cap and trade. They are concerned about maybe card check. They are concerned about a whole host of things that are keeping them on the sidelines. To take this and throw this in, forget about it.
The one thing I didn't hear and I thought I would was that Main Street--you know, you guys in the majority party, you are protecting Main Street. I didn't hear that I am protecting corporate America. I hear it in everything else. It is usually Wall Street. Up until this year, I have never been on Wall Street. I think I walked through it once. I am fighting for the people of this country, the people of my State, to get us financially viable, to get us to solve problems.
Sometimes I am the 41st Senator. I am. When it comes to debt and spending and taxation, I am going to be the guy who is going to hold it up to make sure we don't go further in debt. When I got here, $1.95 trillion was the national debt. It is over $13.2 trillion now, in 7 months.
I have been blessed. I am so honored to be here. You can't even imagine my life. I am the most honored guy to be here in this Chamber. I have been honored to visit the troops in Afghanistan. I went to Pakistan, Dubai, Israel, Jordan in that 7-month period. The thing that was fascinating to me was, from the kings and queens and prime ministers and leaders all over those regions, all they talked about was jobs. That is all they talked about: jobs so al-Qaida would not infiltrate their youth, to get produce to market, to secure the region so we can leave--jobs, jobs, jobs.
I am sorry, Mr. President. If I faint, will you save me? Thank you. I felt it was that important to come and make my point that I have been here about 7 months, and we have spent 10 days talking about jobs. Am I on a different planet or something? We should be talking about jobs every single day we are in session. We have spent 4 days, 3 or 4 days talking about the DISCLOSE Act. Give me a break. Do you think the 15 million, give or take, unemployed people throughout the country are concerned about the political content of political ads in the middle of an election season to give one party a tactical advantage or are they concerned about jobs? I know the people I speak to in Massachusetts and throughout the country want to talk about jobs.
How can we do it immediately? We can talk about the R&D tax credit and making that permanent. That 1099 bill--there is no reason we can't take that separately and put it forth in a bipartisan manner, clean up-and-down vote to protect the small businesses that are getting crushed through paperwork. There is no reason we should not be able to fix that. If we can't do that, we are in deep trouble. Accelerated depreciation, an across-the-board payroll tax reduction, a freeze on Federal hires, a freeze on Federal pay increases--I know it is not popular, but we have to look at these things. We have to look at entitlements. We have to collect moneys owed to us from contractors whom we overpaid or through fraud and abuse. Common sense, folks.
The thing I kind of get sad about--I know it wasn't popular in some circles for me to work on the financial reform bill. I got a lot of heat. But I looked at it, and I said: That doesn't include Fannie or Freddie. I know that. Do we
do nothing? We do nothing, right? We don't fix the regulations that have potentially been outdated for 50 years? We don't prohibit the closing of an entire industry overnight? We allow dentists and doctors and people who are going to finance the fillings in your teeth to be all encompassed in this thing? We are going to allow that? I am not going to allow it. I knew they had the votes anyway, but I took the time to work it through. I will tell you what. Since I have been here, that is the most proud I have been to work across the aisle with people for what we did--11 weeks, I think, working with every thinker and leader in this country when it dealt with financial issues.
I have to admit, I learned a lot, sleeping 5 hours a day maybe, slept in my office trying to figure it out and do it right. I was the most proud to work on that bill in a bipartisan manner. I am part of history. Is it the best bill? No. Is it going to get better? I hope so. Can we fix it after November? I hope so. Did we close TARP? Yes. Did we stop too big to fail? Yes.
Did we stop the bank tax? Yes. Did we do a lot of things people are concerned about? Yes. Did we do some things wrong? Yes. But--do you know what--ever since we got back after July it is as though we do not talk anymore. We are just filing bills with no hope of them passing.
The Defense authorization bill--give me a break. I remember being in committee on the Defense authorization bill. I was sitting there in the Armed Services Committee, all eager, ready to go, being someone who was in the military. ``Gosh, I am going to make a difference. I am going to make a difference, everybody.'' You get there, and it was an invigorating process. We worked our tails off. The chairman said: ``You know, Scott, the things you are concerned about that affect Massachusetts and the New England area, we will do it on the floor.'' ``Oh, good.''
I find out when it gets to the floor the amendment tree is filled. We were offered 20 amendments. That is not good enough. The process is about just scoring points, political points for November. I think the American people are fed up. They are tired of the rhetoric. They are tired of the finger pointing. They are looking for leadership. They are looking for somebody to say: Do you know what? Sometimes I am going to be the 41st Senator, but other times when it comes to getting this country moving, I am going to be the 60th Senator. I do not care if I get reelected or not, but while I am here, I am going to fight every single day to get this country moving again because we are in deep trouble, folks. And if you do not recognize it, by doing this piece of legislation--this is helpful? It is not helpful on its own. They say: Well, it is the first step.
Do not come to me with a first step. Come to me with a real plan, one that is comprehensive and can actually work and that can get some full support from your own party. Tell me you have every member of your party and I will say you are not being truthful. And then try to blame us as the party of no. With all due respect, since I have been here that has changed. But do you know how many times the majority party has voted with me? Zero. OK. So the party of no thing, I will tell you what, it is getting a little old--from the administration and the majority party, a little old. The numbers do not speak for themselves on that one.
I do not want to seem like a downer, Mr. President, because you are a good man. I respect you greatly, and I respect the people who spoke prior to me. Being here and being in this historic Chamber--are you kidding me? To be part of this process is like the greatest honor in the world. Aside from my marriage and the birth of my kids, this is it. And to think we are wasting this amazing opportunity, this amazing opportunity to get our country competitive again and to get us firing on all cylinders.
You cannot tell me we cannot find one thing to agree on. The leaders cannot get together and find one thing? Take the Energy bill. You are telling me we cannot do one thing, take the easiest thing everybody agrees on and do one thing, make it clean and get it through, and send it over to the House and make sure it comes clean and not filled with a substitution bill and comes back clean? Can we do one thing--just one? Am I the only one who believes this?
I get that the bill on the floor tonight is important to the majority party, and I respect that. I do. I get it. And pollsters, if you listen to them--which I tend to not--when they talk about companies that ship jobs overseas, I get that too. I understand that is bad. But it is what is in play now. If we change this one thing and not change and reduce the corporate tax rate to make them have an incentive to staying, it is not going to work.
I believe without a doubt this bill will cause real harm to the economy, and that job creators are united in their opposition to this legislation. I guess it is bad to make money in America, to pay the bills. I am in favor of corporations making money. I am in favor of the employees making money. I am in favor of free trade and free enterprise. I am also in favor of government regulation. It has its place. But the government needs to know when to get out of the way too and to stop overregulating. There is a role for government, absolutely. But government needs to know when to get out of the way, to let free enterprise, free market--you cannot regulate every single thing. You cannot do it.
I have gone around. I have tried to do my research. As I said, I have to. The major employers in Massachusetts whom I have talked to--and we have a tremendous amount, thank goodness. They are not hiring, but they are there. They are not going to expand because of health care and regulation and taxation and the uncertainty of the business world.
I remember I read it or I heard it, Senator Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said he was worried that this bill would put the United States at a ``competitive disadvantage.'' Those words are his, not mine. This bill puts the United States at a ``competitive disadvantage.'' I believe that in my heart. Again, echoing his words, this bill will make American multinational companies less competitive. So it is not just Republican Senators. My colleague, whom I have great respect for on the other side of the aisle, is questioning also the wisdom of this legislation.
Having the second highest corporate tax rate--I notice my colleagues who spoke earlier said--well, I do not want to characterize how they speak. But the companies that are going overseas, yes, they are taking advantage of lower tax rates. Absolutely. But you would believe, in listening to them, that there are also lower labor costs as well. Yes, in some countries that is absolutely true. But in places such as Belgium and Ireland, I respectfully disagree. Companies are doing this to get a good solid workforce, paying good wages, but taking advantage of the 11-percent, 12-percent corporate tax rate versus a 35-percent corporate tax rate.
But I have to take exception to the statement that everybody is going overseas to take advantage of the tax rates.
Well, yes, this is a global economy. We are fighting a battle here. And when China can do the things they are doing and basically provide--well, let's step back. I remember growing up, and you would look at space exploration, roads and bridges, and teachers, and all that, R&D tax credit money, all that great stuff we would use to lure businesses from other parts of the world here. Do you know where that is now? It is all debt service to China. So when I see and when I speak to the companies back home in Massachusetts, and they say: We need A, B, C, and D, I am like, we have no money. It is all in debt service to China right now. I would love to give it to you.
So how do we get our financial situation moving forward? We are not going to do it by having the tax cuts expire. We need to address the tax extenders. We cannot play games and push it off and push it off. How about the death tax? Oh, my God, how many billionaires have died and we have not gotten a penny? Good for them. One over on the government. But is it good for the Federal Government to not get a piece? I am all for people getting money, but we have not even addressed the death tax.
I remember in my first caucus, when I went in, we were talking about it, and in the second caucus, the third caucus, the fourth caucus, and on and on. It is time to kind of come together to solve some real problems so tax planners and families can kind of get their planning done. It is all about uncertainty. The reason we are in part of this mess is because of the financial uncertainty associated with the continued overregulation, the fear of more taxation, the fear of governmental interference, and the things we are trying to do. You can go on and on and on.
So as I said, what is the point? Why even bother getting out of bed?
Mr. President, may I ask, how much time do I have?
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