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Public Statements

Department of Defense, Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I noted last week the Republican leader came to his desk and spoke about the budget and described our Democratic budget as a leftwing manifesto.

We have done $1.8 trillion in spending cuts already. We raised $600 billion--one-third of that--in revenue by restoring the Clinton-era tax rates for families earning over $450,000 a year. So in the balance between spending cuts and new revenues, it is already 3 to 1 in favor of spending cuts. In our budget, we propose to fill the gap of the remainder with 50 percent spending cuts and 50 percent revenue and that is a leftwing manifesto.

The Republican budget changes Medicare into a voucher program. The Republican budget cuts nondefense discretionary spending to levels lower than at any time since OMB started keeping track a half century ago. The Republican budget would set annual domestic spending at rates lower than 1962, when there were no Pell grants at all, when 30 percent of American seniors lived in poverty. But that is not extreme. A Democratic budget that is 50-50 spending cuts and revenues, that is a leftwing manifesto.

The Democratic budget has $975 billion in new spending cuts and it has $975 billion in new revenue in order to close that budget gap 50-50. That means, including the deficit reduction we have already done of $1.8 trillion, we will be, in total, at $4.3 trillion in deficit reduction, which is probably just a little bit over the target that most of the experts have given us to hit. About $2.8 trillion of the $4.3 trillion will come in spending cuts, $600 billion has come in new tax revenue, and $975 billion will come from loopholes, for a total of $1.6 trillion coming from new revenues. Some leftwing manifesto, $1 trillion more in spending cuts than revenue at a time when billionaires in America are paying lower tax rates than brick masons. If that is a leftwing manifesto, then the leftwing needs to fire its manifesto writers. That is some pretty high rhetoric.

We know where the word ``manifesto'' comes from, of course. It comes from the Cold War and the Communists--50 percent spending cuts, 50 percent revenue--and the rhetorical hint is that we Democrats with our budget are a bunch of Commies. That is high rhetoric indeed, and it is not coming from some fringe Senators in their rank and file. This is the Republican leader of the Senate.

In the face of the obvious facts of the balance of our budget, why might the rhetoric be getting so high? What might the Republicans be getting so touchy about? Let's look at where we get the rest of our revenue for our 50-50 budget.

We got the first $600 billion from restoring the Clinton-era tax rates, a time of huge economic success for our country for folks over $450,000 in income. Where do we get our $975 billion in new revenue? We go to the Republican treasure trove. We go to Ali Baba's cave for corporations and the rich. We go to the tax earmarks and the special deals that special interests have, year after year, squirreled away in the Tax Code.

People think: How much can that be? What can it mean when we have money going through the Tax Code and out but not coming to the government in revenues? What is in Ali Baba's cave? How big is the treasure trove? Have a look.

This is the amount of money the U.S. Government collects in taxes from individuals--$1.09 trillion. Here is how much goes back out the backdoor of the Tax Code to people who have loopholes, special rates, deductions in the Tax Code that helped them: $1.02 trillion--virtually the same. For every $1 of revenue the United States collects in actual revenues from individual taxpayers every year, another 94 cents goes back out through the loopholes and the deductions and the special rates, a grand total every year of more than $1 trillion. Since we budget over a 10-year period, it is $10 trillion in this budget period.

On the corporate side, for every $1 of revenue the United States collects in actual revenues from corporations, another 87 cents goes back out the backdoor of the Tax Code through loopholes and special rates and deductions. Again, because we do this over--every year, $157 billion. Again, because we do this over 10 years, that is more than $1.5 trillion. If we add these two together, it is more than $11.5 trillion in the budget period. If we presume some modest growth in the economy over those 10 years, that number gets to about $14 trillion.

So Ali Baba's Tax Code cave of tax spending is very big. There is lots of treasure squirreled away in it, and that doesn't even count the billions of dollars that corporations and wealthy tax avoiders hide offshore so it never even gets into the tax equation. The IRS has pegged that recently at about $385 billion a year.

There is one little building in the Cayman Islands that Chairman Conrad used to refer to regularly when he was chairman of the Budget Committee. One little building in the Cayman Islands, maybe 5 stories tall, where over 18,000 companies claim to be doing business. One can imagine what kind of business they are doing there. That is how $385 billion a year never even appears in the tax equation.

This spending that gets done through the Tax Code that does not get reviewed by annual appropriations, it gets squirreled away in there and it is there to stay. It is a big treasure trove indeed--not counting offshoring, probably $14 trillion in a 10-year budget period for those who are clever and connected enough to get their special deals, their tax earmarks, into the Tax Code.

We take out of that, call it $14 trillion--at a minimum $11.5 trillion--$975 billion, about 7 percent. That is how much of it, this little red slice, is what we take to balance the budget for deficit reduction. The problem is the Republicans do not want us to look into their treasure trove. Ali Baba's cave of tax tricks is where the juicy earmarks are for special interests. Do you want to know why Mitt Romney had to fiddle his taxes to get up to a 14-percent tax rate--which, by the way, is a lower tax rate than a solitary hospital orderly pays walking down the halls of Rhode Island Hospital at night. How does he get it so he has to fiddle his taxes to get up to a rate lower than a hospital orderly pays? How do Romney and the hedge fund billionaires pull off that trick? Look in Ali Baba's cave for the carried interest exception.

Do you want to know where ExxonMobil, which is the richest and most profitable corporation in the history of the world--where ExxonMobil gets its hands into the American taxpayers' pockets? Look at the Big Oil subsidies in Ali Baba's cave.

Do you want to know how corporate jets get special favored tax treatment compared to the commercial jets that ordinary mortals fly? Look at the accelerated depreciation schedules in Ali Baba's cave of tax tricks. If using the phrase ``leftwing manifesto'' seems a little strident, a little exaggerated about a budget proposal for 50 percent spending cuts and 50 percent revenues and you want to inquire why, look no further than the Republican treasure trove of corporate and special interest tax earmarks heaped up in Ali Baba's cave.

We are knocking at the door. We are knocking on the door of Ali Baba's cave, which so far has been untouched. We have done all spending cuts and a little bit of tax rate increases for families over $450,000 back to the Clinton-era rates. We have not touched, yet, Ali Baba's cave. What we are saying as Democrats is that Americans paid in deficit reduction spending cuts what they are going to lose in services and in benefits, $1.8 trillion, and they will pay in another $975 billion in cuts under our Democratic proposal. We are saying that folks earning over $450,000 a year income saw their tax rates go up to Clinton-era levels, and they are paying in another $600 billion in deficit reduction. Now we want to go into Ali Baba's cave of tax earmarks and out of at least $11.5 trillion, probably more like $14 trillion, and if you throw in the offshoring that takes you up to $17 trillion, $18 trillion--we want to take less than $1 trillion out over 10 years to help reduce our budget deficit.

So the Republicans are getting anxious. The alarms are ringing in the special interests and the Republicans are rushing to the trenches to defend their special interests and their cherished tax earmarks. The best defense being a good offense, that is how a balanced deficit reduction plan that in sum has $1 trillion more in spending cuts than in revenues suddenly becomes a leftist manifesto.

We just had the hearings in the Budget Committee on our budget. If you listened on that committee, the Republicans said it plainly. They did not mince words: Not a penny of tax loopholes, not a penny from Ali Baba's cave of tax treasures can go for deficit reduction--not a penny. That is their rule.

They will say they are willing to move the treasure around a little bit in Ali Baba's cave so long as it all gets used for corporations and the wealthy. Again, that is not a guess. That is in the Republican budget--none of the goodies squirreled away by the special interests over the years in Ali Baba's cave for deficit reduction--none; all of it to lower tax rates for corporations and the rich, the ones who mostly benefit from the treasure in Ali Baba's cave to begin with. They are willing to spread the treasure around a little as long as it stays in the hands of big corporations and the rich.

We are at the gates of Ali Baba's cave, this treasure trove of Tax Code special deals and earmarks for the rich and the well connected. We are at the place where the lobbyists wheel the sweet corporate tax deals. We are knocking on the door of a $14 trillion tax spending area that has been, so far, left completely untouched in deficit reduction and so our Republican friends are getting a little twitchy.

Come on, tell us, out of nearly $14 trillion in tax spending and earmarks, can't we just put a little bit toward the deficit? Just 7 percent? Under their own budget, they take 41 percent of it and give it back in the form of lower high-end tax rates, lowered rates for big corporations and the rich. Can't we do just 7 percent for deficit reduction? I thought the deficit was so important, but maybe not when it comes to our friends protecting the interests of the big corporations and the rich.

Madam President, I also wish to speak about the continuing resolution and its provisions relating to Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations. Specifically, I want to highlight how the continuing resolution will support continuing advances in the field of digital forensics.

The continuing resolution is accompanied by a series of explanatory statements that detail Congress' intent behind the raw numbers of the resolution itself. The explanatory statement for the Commerce, Justice, and Science provisions in turn incorporates portions of the Appropriations Committee report on the earlier Commerce, Justice, and Science bill. ``[L]anguage included in . . . Senate Report 112-158,'' the explanatory statement provides, ``that is not changed by this explanatory statement or this Act is approved.'' Neither the explanatory statement nor the continuing resolution change language from Senate Report 112-158 regarding computer forensics. The language from Senate Report 112-158 therefore states the intent behind this portion of the continuing resolution.

This is what Senate Report 112-158 says:

Cell Phone Digital Evidence--As smartphones and the Internet have become integral parts of daily life, these technologies have also become an integral part of a majority of criminal acts and enterprises, from drug deals by text to child pornography websites. Because more than 95 percent of all criminal cases are investigated and prosecuted at the State and local levels, the Committee is concerned that without the Department's support, the ability of State and local law enforcement to effectively investigate and prosecute cases involving digital evidence and computer-based crimes will diminish. The Committee encourages the Department to prioritize State and local assistance toward computer forensics and digital evidence training and investigations surrounding drug and violent crimes, and crimes against children.

Collaborative Efforts To Fight Cybercrime--According to the Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, more than 69 percent of online adults have been a victim of cybercrime in their lifetime, resulting in an annual price of $388,000,000,000 globally. The Committee is aware of the important progress that has been made in the fight against cybercrime by collaborative efforts that bring together prosecutors, researchers, and DOJ in a multidisciplinary effort to identify and prosecute cybercrimes such as `phishing.' These collaborative efforts involve experts in computer forensics that help to identify the source of phishing, train prosecutors in the intricacies of the crime and how best to prosecute cybercriminals, and conduct research to stay ahead of cybercriminals and their ever changing tactics. The Committee believes these collaborative efforts have made good progress against cybercrime and encourages the Department to continue funding these important initiatives.

I applaud Chairwoman Mikulski for stressing the importance of computer forensics training and research, first as the Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee and now as chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee. I am very grateful for her leadership on this important issue.

The report clearly identifies the need for continued Justice Department attention on this subject. This is particularly the case in light of the severe cybersecurity threats facing our Nation. Like the Norton report cited by the committee, a recent report by the security firm Mandiant highlighted the growing threat to our national economic security posed by cyber attacks launched by criminal organizations and foreign countries. Every day, sophisticated hackers are attempting to steal America's secrets, its intellectual property, and the identities of our citizens. As FBI Director Robert Mueller has stated, ``[w]e are losing data, we are losing money, we are losing ideas and we are losing innovation. Together we must find a way to stop the bleeding.'' Digital forensics tools that help attribute the source of an attack and the extent of the damage caused will be an important element of any cybersecurity solution.

Digital forensics tools also help law enforcement investigate and prosecute more traditional crimes. Criminals use smartphones and computers to engage in all kinds of criminal acts and enterprises, from drug dealing to child pornography. Even when criminals do not use modern electronics in the commission of the crime, digital forensics can provide useful evidence relative to, for instance, the whereabouts and intent of the offender, or the participants in a conspiracy. Federal, State, and local law enforcement thus must have access to digital forensics tools and appropriate training to investigate and prosecute these crimes effectively.

For the last decade, the Justice Department has funded extremely important research in these areas. For example, its National Institute of Justice, or NIJ, has funded research on tools for scanning for child pornography; forensic tools for mobile cellular devices; data forensics for cloud computing; technologies to identify and defeat encryption methods used by criminals; and forensic tools for seizing digital evidence in a forensically sound way. NIJ also has funded invaluable training that equips state and local law enforcement to tackle the cybercrime and digital forensics issues that they encounter in their criminal investigations. I believe that NIJ and the Justice Department more broadly must support this research and training going forward. I am very pleased that the continuing resolution we are considering today likewise prioritizes this important work.

Again, the fact that the continuing resolution does this is a testament to Chairwoman Mikulski's leadership in this field. She has been a champion of effective law enforcement for a long time. She now is bringing the same leadership to bear on cybersecurity and criminals' use of emerging technologies. I also would thank Senator Shelby, who is the ranking member of both the full Committee and the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, for his work on this important issue. As a result of their collaboration, the continuing resolution will support a broad range of important Federal initiatives. It is very good news that research and training on digital forensics will be one of them.

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