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Senator McConnell Rises in Support of Bunning Amendment

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I commend my friend and colleague from Kentucky, Senator Bunning, for his excellent amendment.

What we are hearing from the other side of the aisle is that they do not want the dividend exclusion, and they want to finally address an issue they created 10 years ago, which is this additional tax on Social Security recipients. But they are saying, you can't have both. And, as the Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Bunning, has pointed out, most seniors can benefit from both. Obviously, they all benefit from Social Security, and they would like to not have this Clinton tax on Social Security continued any longer; second, seniors account for only 15 percent of the total income in America, but they get 50 percent of the dividend income.

So I gather what Senator Dorgan is saying is, we are going to take away the dividend exclusion from seniors in order to finally reduce the Social Security tax which we put on 10 years ago.

What the Senator from Kentucky is saying is: We want to do both. And we ought to do both. We should never have levied this Social Security tax in the first place, 10 years ago, for which neither of us voted. And we ought to now do the dividend exclusion as close to the President's suggested manner of doing that as possible.

June could be a pretty good month for seniors around here. If we could get the dividend exclusion through, get rid of the Social Security tax, and begin to address prescription drugs, which is on the agenda of the majority leader for June, I say to my friend and colleague from Kentucky, we would have a pretty good month around here for seniors, pretty soon, wouldn't we?

Mr. BUNNING. Yes, sir.

Mr. McCONNELL. So this Bunning amendment makes it clear that we would like to act on the repeal of the Social Security tax hike of 1993, and we will do that in the very near future.

Mr. BUNNING. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCONNELL. I yield to my friend from Kentucky.

Mr. BUNNING. As the Senator knows, I offered this very same amendment on the budget bill to repeal the Social Security tax from 85 percent to 50 percent, and the very same people who would support that today voted unanimously against it on the budget bill.

So the inconsistency that the Senator from North Dakota shows today is something I have a very big problem understanding. If you are for it today, and you want to take these away from seniors, and you also want to take tax away from seniors, you ought to have been consistent and voted to take it away during the budget resolution debate we had on the floor.

I know this Senator voted with me on the budget resolution when we tried to repeal it. And I hope we are able to get this amendment accepted.

Mr. McCONNELL. I know the Senator from Kentucky agrees with me that we ought to do all three. We ought to get rid of this Clinton Social Security tax. We ought to do a significant dividend exclusion that is, to the maximum extent possible, permitted under our overall ceiling in the growth package. And we ought to begin to address prescription drugs, which the leader has indicated we are going to do in June. If we do those three things, I would say we are well on the way to providing the kinds of relief for seniors—both on the tax side and on the prescription drug side—that they richly deserve, that we have talked about for entirely too long around here and have never done anything about.

So let me conclude by commending my friend and colleague from Kentucky for an excellent amendment. I hope it will be approved overwhelmingly. I thank him for his continuing contribution to this whole Social Security debate. The Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Bunning, was the chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee and is now on the Senate Finance Committee, and is one of the real experts on Social Security in America.

When Senator Bunning talks about Social Security, we all listen, and once again he has proposed an excellent idea which I fully support. I thank him and commend him for his outstanding work.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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