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Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I rise with Senators DURBIN, ALEXANDER, and others to discuss an amendment I am filing to the fiscal year 2014 budget resolution. The amendment establishes the deficit-neutral reserve fund that allows States to enforce State and local use tax laws and to collect taxes already owed under State law on remote sales.
The amendment captures the bipartisan, bicameral--the House and Senate--policy my colleagues and I are pursuing in S. 336, the Marketplace Fairness Act. I did hear my colleague from Utah mention he would like that to go through regular order. This does not preclude regular order. This would not be a final determination for the bill, but it would give us some kind of indication of the strength behind this idea.
As a former small business owner, I believe it is important to level the playing field for all retailers--in-store, catalogue, and online--so an outdated rule for sales tax collection does not adversely impact small businesses and Main Street retailers. The Supreme Court case earlier encouraged Congress to solve this problem. Thousands of local businesses are forced to do business at a competitive disadvantage because they have to collect sales tax and use tax and remote sellers do not, which in some States can mean a 5- to 10-percent price advantage. We should not be subsidizing some taxpayers at the expense of others.
Sales taxes go directly to State and local governments--that would be counties and cities and towns--which bring in needed revenue for maintaining our schools, fixing our roads, and supporting local law enforcement. If Congress fails to authorize States to collect tax on remote sales and electronic commerce continues to grow, we are implicitly blessing a situation where States can be forced to raise other taxes, such as income or property taxes, to offset the growing loss of sales tax revenue. Do you want that to happen? I sure don't.
Now is the time for Congress to act. Many Americans do not realize when they buy something online, order something from a catalogue from a business outside their own State, they still owe State sales taxes. It is just very difficult to comply with that. For over a decade, Congress has been debating how best to allow States to collect sales taxes from online retailers in a way that puts Main Street businesses on a level playing field with online retailers.
On February 14, 2013, the bicameral, bipartisan Marketplace Fairness Act was introduced to close the 20-year loophole that distorts the American marketplace by picking winners and losers, by subsidizing some businesses at the expense of other businesses, and subsidizing taxpayers at the expense of other taxpayers. All businesses and their retail sales and all consumers and their purchases should be treated equally.
The bill also empowers States to make the decision themselves. If they choose to collect already existing sales taxes on all purchases, regardless of whether the sale was online or in-store, they can, but it takes their action. If they want to keep things the way they are, it is the State's choice.
The Marketplace Fairness Act does not tax Internet use, it does not tax Internet services, and it does not raise taxes. It gives States the right to collect what is owed by the purchasing individual.
I wish to provide some highlights of what the Marketplace Fairness Act accomplishes. The bill gives States the right to decide to collect or not to collect taxes that are already owed. The legislation would simplify and streamline the country's more than 9,000 diverse sales tax jurisdictions and provide two options by which States could begin collecting sales taxes from online and catalogue purchases. The bill also carves out small businesses so they are not adversely affected by the new law by exempting businesses with less than $1 million in online or out-of-State sales from collection requirements. This small business exemption will protect small merchants and give new businesses time to get started.
Do not let the critics get away with saying this kind of simplification cannot be done. The different tax rates and jurisdictions are no problem for today's software programs. As a former mayor and State legislator, I strongly favor allowing States the authority to require sales and use tax collection from retailers on all sales if the State chooses to do so. We need to implement a plan that will allow States to generate revenue using mechanisms already approved by their local leaders. We need to allow States the ability to collect the sales taxes they already require. If enacted, it would provide approximately $23 billion in fiscal relief for the States for which Congress does not have to find an offset. This would give States less of an excuse to come knocking on the Federal door for handouts and will reduce the problem of federally attached strings.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is about States rights and it is about fairness. I strongly encourage my colleagues to vote for the Enzi-Durbin amendment to support the goals of States rights and a level playing field for all businesses.
I yield the floor and I reserve the remainder of my time.
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Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, I think this illustrates the problem we are having. How can this be a part of tax reform when it is not part of the Tax Code?
It has been heard by the Commerce Committee in the Senate. It has been heard by the Finance Committee. It has not been marked up. It has been heard by the House Judiciary Committee. Senator Enzi has been working on it for 14 years.
This is a very simple question. It is a matter of States rights, two words. Does a State, any State, have the right to decide whether to collect existing taxes from some of the people who owe the taxes or from all of the people who owe the taxes?
In the State of Tennessee, at the Nashville Boot Company store, I walk in, I try on a pair of boots, then I go order it over the Internet so I do not have to pay the sales tax. What the State of Tennessee wants to do--the conservative Governor Bill Haslam, the conservative Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, the Republican legislature, these are not a bunch of big tax people--they want to collect the sales tax from everybody who owes it and they would like to require those who sell into Tennessee to do the very same thing they do, what the Nashville Boot Company does when I buy from it: They add the sales tax to the bill. They collect it and send it to the State. How hard is that to do?
My wife gave me an ice cream maker for my birthday last year. I ordered some ingredients to make chocolate ice cream, over the Internet. When I did that they added to my bill the sales tax based on my ZIP Code. It is as easy as looking up the weather on your computer.
That is all we are deciding here. We are only deciding whether we in the Congress are going to make State governments in our constitutional framework play Mother May I, by coming and pleading with us to allow the State to decide what to do about its own taxes. The State of Tennessee wishes to reduce its tax rate. It wishes to avoid a State income tax. It doesn't like the idea of treating one taxpayer one way and another one another way; and one business one way and another business another way. It wants to make that decision for itself.
When I was the Governor of Tennessee, nothing made me more unhappy than to look up at Washington and see people of my own political party come up here and think since they had taken an airplane to Washington, they had gotten smarter than I was, suddenly, just by an hour plane ride, and they were going to tell me what to do.
Now we have an honor roll of conservatives, and I will just speak to the conservatives on my side for a while, who said we do not think States ought to be playing Mother May I to the Federal Government on this question. Give State legislatures the power to make these decisions for themselves. That is consistent with the tenth amendment. That is consistent with our constitutional framework. And most of them are saying, as ours is in Tennessee: If you give us this power, the right to do it, which the Supreme Court has said you clearly have the right to do it--you, Congress, are the most qualified to do it. You can make this decision. Give us this power and we will lower our tax rate. That is what our State wants to do.
It might use the money another way. They might use it to pay outstanding teachers more, to lower the tuition rate. But States have the right to be right, and States have the right to be wrong.
There was a Supreme Court case 20 years ago at a time when most Senators didn't even know there was an Internet. The Court did say that States could not impose a burden on interstate commerce. But it said Congress could write the rules for doing that. Now it is about as easy to add the sales tax if you are buying from a catalog or buying over the Internet as it is if you buy from a local store. There is no reason for us to take the position that only we know best about how States should make decisions about their services or their taxes.
Some are worried that this might increase taxes. I have said most Governors think they will lower tax rates. But here is the honor roll of conservatives who are asking the Congress to reaffirm our commitment and understanding of our constitutional system which allows States to make this decision: Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia; Governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania; Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee; Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey; Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan; Governor Butch Otter, Idaho; Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana; former Governor Jeb Bush, Florida; former Governor Haley Barbour; the writings of the late William F. Buckley, et cetera, et cetera.
It is time after 20 years to take this simple 11-page bill that says States have the right to decide for themselves whether to collect an existing tax from some of the people who owe it or from all the people who owe it, by requiring the seller to collect the tax at the time of the sale: same tax, same store. They ought to be able to do that.
Finally, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record following my remarks the comments of a number of conservative supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
In our State of Tennessee this bill is an insurance policy against a State income tax. We don't have one. We don't want one.
It is also an opportunity for us to treat every taxpayer the same way. If you owe the tax, it is collected at the time of sale and you pay it, you don't avoid it. It is also a chance to treat all of the businesses that sell into Tennessee the same way. If you are going to sell to our 6 million people, we are going to treat you the same way we treat people in the State. We don't want to create an incentive for people to move out of Tennessee in order to sell into Tennessee. We want there to be a level playing field.
If Montana businesses do not want to sell in Tennessee, that is their prerogative. But if they do, we want to treat them in the same way we treat all the other businesses in Tennessee. Let's make it very clear: This is not a tax on the Internet. We have a Federal law that placed a moratorium on Internet access taxes. Let me repeat that. We have a Federal law that is an existing moratorium on taxing the Internet.
This is a question about whether the State of Idaho, the State of Wyoming, the State of Tennessee, the State of Massachusetts, or any other State, that may say if we are going to have a sales tax then we are going to collect it in the same way from all the people who sell to the people in our State. That is infinitely logical. With the advent of technology it is about as easy to collect it one way as the other. And it is fair.
I congratulate Senator Enzi and Senator Durbin for their years of work. I appreciate very much the commitment of the chairman of the Finance Committee to say there will be a markup. I think it is absolutely wrong to think of it as part of tax reform since it is not part of the Tax Code. We might include a milk producers bill in tax reform as well by the Chairman's logic. They do not belong in the same place. This bill boils down to two words: It is a States rights bill. Do we have a tenth amendment, or the spirit of a tenth amendment, or do we not? Do we trust Governors and legislatures to make decisions, or do we not? Then they can decide whether they want to raise or lower taxes, whether they want to collect taxes from some of the people who owe it or from all the people who owe it. That is the issue, these two words: States rights. I think this issue is perfectly appropriate to bring up after 14 years of work by Senator Enzi, after hearing from the Senate Finance and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. This is an opportunity for us to express our support for this principle of States rights and to give Governors and legislatures across the country a chance to treat businesses and taxpayers in the same way--stop picking winners and stop picking losers.
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APPENDIX B--QUOTE FROM KEITH HENNESSEY (STANFORD UNIVERSITY), INCLUDED IN THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE ``MITCH MCCONNELL'S CLAIM THAT THE DEMOCRATS PLAN A $1.5 TRILLION TAX HIKE''
Keith Hennessey, another former GOP budget expert who now teaches at Stanford University... was especially suspicious of the fact that reserve funds do not have limits--as is sometimes the case in budget resolutions--and said it was perfectly acceptable to argue that the budget ``also allows for another $580 billion in tax increases to offset additional spending increases she [Murray] assumes and promotes aggressively.'' He added: ``If anything I'd argue that even the $1.5 trillion number understates the tax increases allowed by the Murray budget resolution. She's requiring $975 billion in tax increases to reduce future deficits, and allowing for unlimited amounts more to pay for new spending. I find that terrifying.''
Mr. SESSIONS. I would like to say this to my chairman: I am willing to concede the point if the chair would agree to amend the two reserve funds so that they cannot be used to advance tax increases, and I would cease making that argument and accept the fact that you have already almost $1 trillion in new taxes.
So I would ask through the chair, is the Senator willing to amend those two reserve fund languages so they cannot be used to add another $500 billion in new taxes?
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, let me just respond again. As the Washington Post said in giving this concoction two Pinocchios, the reserve funds the Senator refers to lie within there in order to provide the $975 billion in revenues. So essentially what he is doing is double-counting. So I would just say to the Senator through the Chair that there is no need to have any kind of agreement here. That is what our budget does. It is clear. It is what every expert has said.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I thank the chair, and I assume, then, that she refuses to clarify the ambiguity, the certain option to increase taxes by another $500 billion. That could be eliminated simply by making the suggestion I just announced. She is rejecting that. So I think it is legitimate to assume that the intent of this reserve fund is to raise taxes another $500 billion.
Secondly, with regard to the situation we have been discussing concerning the sequester, I know the Senator said just a few moments ago that the sequester is not deficit reduction. We can disagree about that, but that was her opinion, apparently. I think it is inaccurate.
But my question to the Senator is, does your budget as now presented on the floor eliminate the spending limits that are in current law under the Budget Control Act and specifically the sequester portion?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, as I have stated many times out here on the floor--and our budget is very clear--we replace sequestration with a balanced mix of spending cuts and revenues, exactly as we have stated. There is no reason to misconstrue this. That is exactly what our budget does.
Mr. SESSIONS. Well, I wouldn't misconstrue it. So it does eliminate the sequester.
So then the next question would be, did you score the allowed increase in spending of $1.2 trillion in your budget as increased spending?
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, this is a matter of semantics. We replace the sequestration, very clearly, because it is very damaging to our country.
Mr. SESSIONS. Well, your staff indicated that you could not double-count that money, and if you eliminated the $1.2 trillion in sequester limit and allowed $1.2 trillion more to be spent, you would not save $1.85 trillion but approximately $700 billion on that decision alone. Do you agree with your staff in their analysis?
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I assume we are taking this off the Republican time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, let me be very clear: We have put out a budget that is credible. It is clear, and it is a good, solid approach. I know we are playing with numbers here in terms of baselines. There is no need to do that. We are doing what every single budget has done--Simpson-Bowles and everyone else--replacing the sequestration. We are clear that we have $975 billion in spending cuts, $975 billion in revenue. We, within the context of that, replace the sequester cuts. We take the $2.4 trillion that has already been done since Simpson-Bowles--since Simpson-Bowles and we add another $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction.
Mr. SESSIONS. One more question, then. Do you still stand by the promotional material that went with the budget--and in the budget document itself--that you have reduced the deficit over current law by $1.85 trillion or isn't it a fact that eliminating the sequester reduces that to approximately $700 billion in savings?
Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, over the baseline, which we are very clear in what we are using--we are not hiding the ball, as he is trying to do when he is mixing numbers here--we reduce the budget by an additional $1.85 trillion, absolutely.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I would just say that the Associated Press disagrees. It is plainly inaccurate. Plainly, I asked that question, over current law, did they count the sequester increase in spending? And the staff admitted in our Budget Committee mark up that it did not--that increased spending--and therefore we reduce the deficit savings from $1.85 trillion to about $700 billion. There is another $700 billion in gimmicks, so there is no reduction in the deficit in this budget.
The AP reported:
..... because Democrats want to restore $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts .....--cuts imposed by [the] failure to strike a ..... budget pact--Murray's blueprint increases spending slightly when compared with current policies.
The Hill says:
The Murray budget does not contain net spending cuts with the sequester turned off.
So I will say this is a serious issue. We need to understand that the sequester is law. It is not just a policy, it is in law. It is taking effect right now. The deficit reduction proposed by this bill is not $1.8 trillion but, in fact, zero.
I thank the Chair and would now recognize Senator Barrasso for 10 minutes, I believe, and Senator Alexander for 10 minutes. I thank them for their patience.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, within the last 20 minutes, I have heard on the floor comments about the sequester. A previous speaker on the Democratic side of the aisle said the sequester was hurting small business and said the sequester was causing economic uncertainty. Another Senator on the other side of the aisle made reference to the Washington Post.
Well, I would draw the attention of this body to the Washington Post of this morning, a front page story in the Washington Post of today, Thursday, March 21: ``Health-care uncertainty weighs down small firms''--not the sequester, uncertainty about the health care law. ``Requirements under 2010 law sow confusion, fear among businesses.'' That is the problem that is driving the fear and the anxiety and the lack of new business starts and the failure to expand business.
In this article, there is a small business owner of an air-conditioning firm in Richmond. He says:
In speaking to them, I am convinced--
He is talking about other customers, he is talking about other businesses--
I am convinced that the primary reason we aren't seeing a robust economic recovery is the uncertainty and costs associated with this health-care law.
``Looming health-care changes hold back small businesses.''
Another quote from the article:
It's already hard out there right now. ..... This may be--
``This'': the health care law--
the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Not the sequester, not made-up confusion by the Democrats, it is the health care law that is hurting our economy. Even the Federal Reserve, in their Beige Book, said so this past month.
So I rise today to speak on the fiscal year 2014 budget and the choice we face over whether we are going to grow the economy or just grow government bureaucracy.
When I travel home to Wyoming, as I did last weekend and will again this weekend, I hear from hard-working American taxpayers that they do not believe Washington is spending their tax dollars wisely. They think Washington has become far too inefficient, ineffective, and unaccountable. It is not just the people in Wyoming I am hearing it from. According to Gallup, Americans across the country estimate that the Federal Government wastes 51 cents of every dollar it spends. More than half of all taxpayer dollars are wasted is what the American people believe. So when people look at the Federal budget--and the debate that we are having today in the Senate--it is no wonder they are concerned. They want to know how this budget is going to affect them and their quality of life.
Looking at the Democratic budget, I think the American people have every reason to be skeptical and every reason to be concerned. This budget is just more of the same--more taxes, more spending, and more debt--and it never reaches balance, not this year, not 10 years from now, not ever.
This budget does far too little to heal our ailing economy and far too much to expand Washington bureaucracy. The budget the Democrats have put forward would increase taxes by $1 trillion. That is on top of the trillion dollars in tax increases in the President's health care law. It is also on top of the tax hikes the President demanded in the January deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. In contrast, the Republican plan from the House Budget Committee will not increase taxes at all.
The Democrats' budget will also rack up $7.3 trillion in new debt over the next decade. Since President Obama took office 4 years ago, he has added more than $6 trillion to our national debt. For 4 years, he has run budget deficits of over $1 trillion each and every one of those 4 years. Now Senate Democrats want to throw good money after bad and add another $7 trillion on top of that. The President has simply wasted too much of the American taxpayers' money. The American people have been stuck with an enormous bill as well as an anemic economy and economic growth that has been very slow.
The American people think more than half of all Washington spending is wasted, and the Democrats cannot find a single dollar that they think should be saved. Democrats actually want to increase Washington's spending by another $645 billion.
This budget would spend $46.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Apparently, President Obama thinks the only things which need to be cut from our budget are White House tours.
Well, Republicans and the American people know there is a lot more we could be cutting. Taxpayers are demanding Washington finally get serious about our budget and stop the political games and political gimmicks. It is time for Washington to do what families across the country have always needed to do, live within their means. Democrats still don't seem to get it. They continue to insist the rules don't apply to Washington, and they should not be held accountable for their spending choices.
Like their other failed policies of the past few years, the Democrats' plan is very much a statement of their priorities. It does nothing to stop the overregulation which is destroying jobs and strangling our economy. It protects failing government programs from reform. It does nothing to preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security for future generations. It spends more money so Washington Democrats don't need to make a single tough choice. They have made their priorities clear, but they are the wrong priorities for America.
Republicans have offered a plan which starts to rein in Washington's spending and getting it back in line with revenue. This is what we should be doing. With a debt of more than $16 trillion, it is why, and it is way beyond the time to balance the budget.
We need to finally start to ease the burden of that debt on future generations. We need to reduce our obligations to countries such as China. We need budget reforms which help to grow our economy and create jobs, or we can go in the opposite direction the Democratic way. The Democratic budget never balances. It never even comes close to balanced.
The smallest deficit it ever achieves would be more than $400 billion in 2016, and then the deficit begins to climb again. It continues Washington's unrestrained borrowing and spending and continues the damage 4 years of failed Democratic priorities have done to our economy. According to one independent analysis, the Democrats' budget would cost America 853,000 jobs. Total economic output would be $1.4 trillion less because of this budget. Private investment would be $82 billion less per year.
As bad as this budget is, at least we finally have a Democratic budget to debate. This is the first time in 4 years the Democrats have even bothered to offer a budget in the Senate.
President Obama has not even submitted a budget. Where is the President's budget? It was due on February 4. Now the White House says they will
finally produce a budget maybe sometime in April. This is more than 2 months late.
What we have to work with is an unserious budget plan written by Senate Democrats. It is inadequate to the challenges we face as a country. It is out of touch with what the American people want, and it is a slap in the face to the hard-working taxpayers who will need to pay for it.
If President Obama truly believes we can take a balanced approach to our budget, he should publicly oppose this wildly unbalanced budget which harms America. We need a serious budget, one which grows the economy, not government bureaucracy.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee is recognized.
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I wish to speak for a few minutes about 11 million low-income children in America, children which all of us would like to help. These are children that I wish would have a chance to get a little help getting to the starting line towards realizing the American dream. I am talking about the children we help through the Federal education program called title I of the elementary and secondary education act.
It is the largest of our Federal programs aiding elementary and secondary schools. It provides $14.5 billion a year to local school districts. The express purpose of it is to help low-income children in schools across our country.
The problem is that the money is not going to help those children as it was intended. It is being diverted for other purposes.
As part of our discussion today and tomorrow on the budget, I will be offering an amendment on behalf of myself, Senator Paul, Senator Rubio, Senator Toomey, and Senator McConnell, which will redirect the 14.5 billion Federal dollars we spend on behalf of 11 million children living in poverty.
This is the way we would do it: We would simply pin $1,300 in funds to each of those children, and let this money follow the child to the school they attend, any accredited school, public or private.
In a contentious Washington world this is a problem which seems to have a broad amount of agreement from the left and the right. As I said, this $14.5 billion, which is appropriated expressly to help these 11 million children, isn't getting to them. It is ending up in other places. It is distributed by a complicated Federal formula which is generally based on the percentage or number of low-income children in a particular school district and the average per-pupil expenditure in the State.
What happens is the money largely follows the teachers' salaries. The children in wealthier districts are usually taught by teachers who earn higher salaries. The children in poor districts are usually taught by the teachers who earn lower salaries. A lot of the title I money ends up in the schools with more of the wealthier children instead of the schools with the poorer children.
Marguerite Roza, in a report by the Center for American Progress--which I think can be fairly described as a progressive think tank, explained:
The difference in actual school expenditures are often substantial because teachers' salaries are based on their experience and credits or degrees earned, and because high-poverty schools have many more less experienced, lower paid teachers and much more turnover than low-poverty schools.
She offers Baltimore as an example:
When teachers at one school in a high-poverty neighborhood were paid an average of $37,618, at another school in the same district the average teacher's salary was $57,000.
Assuming the same average number of teachers per school, say 20, the difference in dollars for the two schools is $387,640. That is a lot of money per school.
Under the Federal formula, this is considered ``comparable'' or fair, which means the poor school is essentially stuck with newer, less expert teachers. This is a system designed for the bureaucracy and the adults, not the students.
A different report by the Fordham Foundation, which I would call a center-right foundation, came to a similar conclusion. It summed up its findings by saying:
All of these problems have a common root: today, money does not follow children to the schools they attend according to their needs. Instead, money flows on the basis of factors which have little to do with the needs of students, the resources required to educate them successfully, or the educational preferences of their parents.
We have scholars from the Center for American Progress and Fordham Foundation coming to the same conclusion, largely because the title I money is distributed based on teachers' salaries and because very often the wealthier school districts
pay teachers more. We have significantly more title I money in a school with wealthier children than with poor children, even though the purpose of the $14.5 billion is to help those low-income children move from the back of the line to the front of the line.
This is a lot of money. This is $1,300 per child. If you have a school full of children who bring $1,300 with them pinned on their jackets, they have a lot of money to help those children. I think most of us believe that if we are trying to help children get to the starting line, children who might not have had as much help as other children, might not have had a book read to them by their parents, might not have eaten lunch that day, and who have other challenges associated with living in poverty, then we want to make sure we are spending every single dollar designated toward them for them.
Why isn't the right solution simply to say let's take these $1,300 per student and let it follow the student to the school they attend? This means almost all the money would go to public schools. We have 100,000 public schools in the country, but children are usually assigned to public schools. Sometimes they may choose a public school. This is a matter of State law. This wouldn't interfere with that at all. If the parent chooses instead for their child to go to a nonprofit or attend a private school, as long as that school is accredited, the $1,300 would follow the child to that school.
Some may say that sounds a little different than the way we do it now. It is a little different, but the main difference is the money follows the child. It is not different that we spend public money in private schools. We already do that with title I money by providing services to children who go to private schools under a formula in the Federal law. We have long experience, dating back to World War II, with public money following college students to community colleges, to universities, and even after World War II to high schools. The GI bill followed the veteran to the school they wanted to go to, whether it was the University of Tennessee, Notre Dame, Yeshiva, or any other school, as long as it was an accredited school.
Of course, in our system of education I think we would all agree that we have had the greatest success with higher education, for a variety of reasons. I believe one of the reasons for this success is we have provided generous amounts of Federal dollars that follow the student to the accredited college of their choice, public or private. We call those Pell grants. We call those federal loans. More than half of the college students in the country today go there with some government money that follows them to the academic institution of their choice.
By allowing title I money to do this, we could say the $1,300 scholarship is almost a Pell grant for kids. We could say we will attach it right to the child. It follows the child to the school. It is the most logical way to do that.
Some of my colleagues would like to fix this comparability problem by imposing a whole series of mandates on State and local school districts even though the Federal Government only supplies about 10 percent of all the money spent on local elementary and secondary schools. This would produce a minor revolution in the country, and it would be a gross overextension of Federal power to say that just because we provide 10 percent of the money, and we don't give it effectively, we are going to make it our job to tell Tennessee, Georgia, New Mexico, or any other State how to spend it.
The simple and logical way to solve the comparability problem that the left and the right agree on is to let the $14.5 billion follow each of the 11 million children living in poverty to the school they attend. Then we could make sure that taxpayer dollars are being used in the most effective way to help these children have the single best opportunity they may have to get a leg up on reaching the American dream, which is through a good education in the best possible school.
I look forward to introducing an amendment to do this. As the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I look forward to working with Senator Paul, Senator Rubio, Senator Toomey, Senator McConnell, and, hopefully, a number of my Democratic colleagues to solve the misallocation of title I money.
Let's do the simple and logical thing: Let the funds follow low-income children to the school they attend.
I yield the floor.
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