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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I feel it is very important that we spend some time on this issue. I think all Americans realize we are in almost unprecedented difficult economic times, and that despite efforts that have been made over the now nearly 3 years, our economy has not grown and it has not provided the kind of job growth and opportunity many of us had anticipated.
When we look at previous recessions--and this is a near depression by some calculations--the recovery has been amazingly and agonizingly slow as compared to recoveries from other recessionary periods.
In the view of this Senator, the remedies have, in many respects, made the problem worse rather than better. If we look at some objective criteria, I argue that the situation in America today is worse than it was on January 2009, when this administration came to office. We have had the stimulus package, the Health Care Reform Act, increases in spending in numerous areas, and the Dodd-Frank bill, which was going to fix the regulatory system in this country to prevent any financial institution in America from ever again being too big to fail--in other words, no financial institution would ever need taxpayer dollars to the degree that America's economy would be impacted adversely in case that institution failed.
Well, here we are. Here we are, nearly 3 years later, and unemployment is at 9 percent, even though after the stimulus package was passed all the predictions were that maximum unemployment would be 8 percent and headed down. The recovery has been anemic. In my home State of Arizona, still nearly half the homes are under water. In other words, they are worth less than the mortgage payments the homeowners are required to make.
Working together with my colleague from Kentucky, Senator Paul, and Senator Portman of Ohio, we have put together a series of proposals and ideas that have been generated both within this body and outside of this body, and we believe--we believe with the utmost sincerity--there should be areas in this proposal that we and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle could come to agreement on. We wish to see this entire package. We think it is important in its entirety. There is no doubt in our minds that when you look at the 9-percent approval rating Members of Congress have with the American people, they certainly want to see us do something constructive as well.
I guess I would ask my colleague from Kentucky how he thinks we should have put this package together, what we should have included, and what haven't we included. What is the situation in his home State as far as a need for this kind of legislation?
Before going to my friend from Kentucky, let me add that I talk to large and small businesspeople all over this country, and they all tell me the same thing. They all tell me the same thing. They have no certainty as to what the future holds for them, which then causes them not to invest or to create jobs. Overseas, they are sitting on $1 trillion. Here in the United States they are sitting on a $1 1/2 trillion and not investing because they do not know when the next regulatory act is going to come down. They do not know when the next regulation is going to be issued. They do not know when the next tax increase is going to occur.
I saw on television the other day that the owner and founder of Home Depot, Kenneth Langone--and he also wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal--said he couldn't start Home Depot today. He couldn't start it today because of the environment that exists. Intended or not--and I know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have the most honorable of intentions--the result of all this regulation has been a climate which has restrained investment, which has then restrained and killed job creation and caused this economy to be mired in the doldrums. Obviously, that has had a terrible impact on every-day Americans.
Before my colleague comments, I first want to thank the Senator from Kentucky for the key role he has played in putting this package together, and I hope this is the beginning of our fight for passage of this legislation.
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Mr. McCAIN. Maybe my friend from Kentucky and I can talk about many of the various provisions in this legislation. There are a lot of provisions that were based on input from outside and inside this body. Some of this, by the way, closely mirrors legislation which has already passed the House of Representatives as well.
We lead off with a requirement for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I was here many years ago when the balanced budget amendment failed by one vote. When you ask the American people if government, and the Congress, shouldn't live under the same constraints they have, they are in total support of that.
I have seen polls--and I wonder if my friend from Kentucky has--that show 80 to 90 percent of the American people support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution when informed what it is. At the very least we ought to put that up for a vote in this body.
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Mr. McCAIN. I want to go back a second to the point the
Senator from Kentucky made. Congress cannot bind future Congresses. I was here at the time of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, and Gramm-Rudman-Hollings was one of the most strict budgetary requirements ever passed by this body. It required automatic spending cuts in the event that budgets were exceeded and excess spending was, obviously, taking place. But one Congress cannot bind future Congresses. So over time--over a very short period of time--the restraints imposed on spending by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings went into the mist and we went back to business as usual.
I will be very candid with my colleague. There are people who have legitimate concerns about a balanced budget amendment and what it would take to get there and the Draconian measures that may be entailed. But I ask, what is the alternative? What is the alternative? Mortgaging our children and our grandchildren's future? I believe currently that stands at a $44,000 debt for every man, woman and child in America. So why don't we in this body have a debate over a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and find out exactly where people are?
At the same time, we have learned over the years that Congresses cannot bind future Congresses, and so that is the problem with enacting automatic spending cuts, or whatever spending cuts or other measures we achieve here. We cannot bind future Congresses, appropriately. So the only way to address this issue is by amending the Constitution of the United States, which I know the Senator from Kentucky and I do not view as a measure taken lightly. I have been opposed to most changes in the Constitution. I think our Founding Fathers got it pretty well right. But this is an issue that I think has to be addressed.
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Mr. McCAIN. Isn't it a fact that Americans are not only very unhappy because of the economic condition we find ourselves in but also because they perceive an inequity and an inequality in our economy today? In other words, they see financial institutions on Wall Street making record profits and paying record bonuses. They see large corporations that pay no income taxes--none--zero. They see that and then see themselves paying their taxes, the least of which may be withholding taxes or sales taxes or whatever taxes they are still paying. It seems to me that tax reform would address these inequities.
I note that Senator Portman from Ohio is here, and he knows this better than anybody, having been, in his previous incarnation, the head of the Office of Management and Budget. Over the years, we have carved out loophole after loophole and have provided some with a better or special deal. It is a damning indictment of the Congress and the administration that we let it happen, but it is what it is. So we now have major corporations--I would cite General Electric as an example--that paid no taxes last year. An average citizen--who doesn't have a lobbyist here in Washington and who can't get a carveout or a special loophole for their small business--is paying these taxes.
So how do we resolve that inequity? It seems to me that is accomplished through tax reform. Give people a simplified Tax Code. The Senator from Ohio has some much better ideas about this: three tax brackets, eliminate all but charitable deductions--even put a ceiling on that--and home mortgage deductions, and then the American people would at least believe they are being treated fairly. Today, they do not believe they are being treated fairly. And I am talking about middle-income Americans.
I think statistics confirm that most Americans believe there is a large disparity between the wealthiest and the less well off in America. I would ask my colleague from Ohio to comment, since he knows more about that than I do.
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Mr. McCAIN. What is the response to the suggestion of bringing the corporate tax rate down to 25 percent, let's say, because we say corporations are taxed too much in America, yet at the same time we also find corporations paying no taxes?
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Mr. McCAIN. For just a minute, I would like to discuss with the Senator from Kentucky and the Senator from Ohio that enhanced rescission or what used to be known as line item veto.
The Senator from Ohio once had the misfortune--his reward will be in Heaven, not here on Earth--of being the head of the Office of Management and Budget and saw these appropriations bills come over, and many of them were that thick. Going through line by line, we find these special interests, special deals we call porkbarrel projects which have no justification, which were never debated, which were never discussed, which were never brought to the light of day except maybe occasionally, but certainly it contributed enormously to our debt and deficit.
So he had the option of going to the President of the United States and saying: Veto the whole bill and send it back and it may be overridden or accept these pork-laden, big, thick appropriations bills.
Isn't that a dilemma we should not force the President of the United States to have, that kind of Hobson's choice?
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Mr. McCAIN. I would say to the Senator from Kentucky, the President probably would veto some items we wouldn't like vetoed because there are some differences in philosophy between ourselves and the President of the United States.
But I am willing to take not only that risk but that penalty associated with trying to get elimination of the porkbarrel spending.
We have made some progress, I will admit, in the elimination of some of the ``earmarks,'' but we have a long, long way to go. Frankly, it is a disease I have watched recede a bit over time and then it pops back up. Again, it is something like the balanced budget amendment--it needs to have a permanent fix.
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Mr. McCAIN. If the scenario takes place as the Senator from Kentucky just pointed out, that all of a sudden everything is decided by members of the Appropriations Committee, then it does deprive the other members of this body of their input into the entire process and takes the authority and responsibility from 100 and puts it in the hands of a few. That seems, to me, a disservice to the people of Arizona whom I represent.
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Mr. McCAIN. I see the Senator from Washington is here, and I don't want to encroach on her time.
I would just like to say we are going to spend a lot more time today on this issue and this proposal. The American people want change in Washington. They want us to address the concerns and problems they face, and we believe we have a great blueprint for moving forward in that direction. As my friends from Ohio and Kentucky have said, we are eager to sit down with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle and discuss at least some of these which we think we can come to agreement on. Maybe our approval rating, if we did so, could climb back up into double digits.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Tennessee. As Senator Corker knows, we had an amendment on the Dodd-Frank bill to do away with Fannie and Freddie over a 5-year period. I think it is obvious that the Senator from Tennessee has done a lot of homework and in-depth examination of this issue. But I think the Senator from Tennessee would agree that what went on with Fannie and Freddie is one of the worst crimes inflicted on the American people all during the 1990s and well into 2000 and which was a major contributor to the housing collapse, which then triggered the financial collapse which we still haven't recovered from. I wonder if the Senator from Tennessee wishes to elaborate.
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Mr. McCAIN. I think the Senator from Tennessee--and I want to get back to the jobs bill--but I think the Senator from Tennessee would agree, as long as Fannie and Freddie are in existence and have the opportunity to behave in a manner that they did in the past, we risk another housing bubble followed by a housing collapse. That is why I think the Senator's proposal is something that deserves our attention and that of the country, so we don't have a repetition of the pain that the people in Tennessee and Arizona are experiencing today.
Nearly half the homes in my home State of Arizona are under water. They are worth less than their mortgage payments. As long as that is the case, it is going to be very difficult to see a way for a strong economic recovery to take place. I think phasing Fannie and Freddie out is probably one of the key elements in bringing about not only beneficial change--and a number of other things have to happen too--but to prevent the kind of catastrophe that was visited on us in 2008.
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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I wish to inform my colleagues that I have a lot to say about this jobs bill. There is no unanimous consent agreement. I believe this is of transcendent importance. I see the Senator from Minnesota here. I apologize ahead of time, but we only have until tomorrow morning to address this issue. This is a compelling issue for this Nation. I intend to talk for a fairly extended period of time.
For the benefit of my colleagues, this amendment is identical to the Jobs Through Growth Act which was introduced on October 17. I am pleased about joining most of my Republican colleagues--and I wish to highlight the hard work done by my colleagues Senators PAUL and PORTMAN in putting this legislation together. In fact, I wish to thank all of the Senators, and some of them bipartisan, who put this jobs bill together. It requires a lot of discussion. There are issues of transcendent importance.
I don't have to tell any American how difficult our economic times are, how slow the recovery has been, if at all, the risk of further recession, and it is time we did something different. I would point out to my colleagues that for 2 years the other party had control of this body and had control of the House of Representatives--for 2 years, until the 2010 election. During that period of time, we passed a stimulus bill, we passed health care reform, we passed other big spending bills, all on the promise that the American economy would recover. It didn't. In fact, by any measurement, things are far worse than they were in January of 2009.
As the President has a jobs bill and the majority leader has put forth legislation as part of that jobs bill, we Republicans have a jobs bill. I know my friends on the other side of the Capitol also agree wholeheartedly with the majority of what we are proposing today. The difference between our plan and theirs is that we want to create jobs through growth and they want to create jobs through government spending, through spending and borrowing and taxing. That doesn't work. What they have proposed amounts to nothing more than another stimulus bill, and we saw that movie before. It added to our debt and our deficit, and we lost jobs.
Today, my colleagues and I are putting forth a plan to create jobs through sound policies. Economic growth is a fundamental part of long-term, sustainable job creation, and that is what our plan offers the American people.
I wish to quote from an article in Forbes magazine by Peter Ferrara entitled ``The GOP Jobs Plan Vs. Obama's.''
Senate Republicans have taken the lead in proposing a jobs plan alternative to President Obama's in the form of the Jobs Through Growth Act, led by Senators John McCain, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Rob Portman of Ohio. Republicans are remarkably unified behind these economic and jobs growth ideas, with House Republicans having already long supported or even passed several components of that plan.
The 28 components of their program add up to exciting prospects for finally sparking the long overdue economic recovery, based on proven economic logic, and proven experience concerning what works in the real world. Most important are the proposals for both corporate and individual tax reform, closing loopholes in return for reducing the rates.
Lower marginal tax rates are the key to providing the necessary incentives for economic growth and prosperity. The marginal tax rate is the rate on the next dollar to be earned from any investment, enterprise, or productive activity. That is the key because it determines how much the producer is allowed to keep out of the next unit of what he or she produces.
At a 50-percent marginal tax rate, the producer can keep only half of any increased production. If that rate is reduced to 25 percent, the portion the producer can keep grows by 50 percent, from one half to three fourths. That powerfully increases the incentives for more productive activity, such as savings, investment, starting new businesses, expanding businesses, creating jobs, entrepreneurship, and work.
The Republican Jobs Plan involves closing the special interest loopholes that enable Obama corporate cronies such as General Electric to get away with paying no taxes on $14 billion in corporate profits, in return for reducing rates to internationally competitive levels. The U.S. suffers virtually the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, nearly 40 percent, with a 35 percent federal rate, and another nearly 5 percent in state corporate rates on average.
Even Communist China enjoys a 25% corporate rate. In the supposedly mostly socialist European Union, the corporate rate on average is even lower than that. In formerly socialist Canada, the federal corporate rate is 16.5%, going down to 15% next year.
The GOP Plan would reduce the federal 35% rate to 25%, which is the minimum reduction to restore international competitiveness for American companies. Note that closing loopholes may well raise the average corporate rate, on which Democrats and liberals have focused, but it is the marginal tax rate that drives the economy. .....
The GOP Jobs Plan also includes reducing the top personal, individual income tax rate to 25% as well, in return for closing loopholes. The Ryan budget already passed by the House would apply that rate to family incomes over $100,000, with a 10% rate applying to incomes below. Those rate reductions would powerfully boost incentives as well, as proven by the dramatic response to the Reagan tax rate reductions in the 1980s. .....
Another component of the plan would eliminate the double taxation of U.S. corporate profits earned abroad by the U.S. ``worldwide'' corporate tax code, which adds U.S. taxes on top of the taxes on foreign profits by the host country. The GOP plan calls for adopting the ``territorial'' tax code of most of our international competitors, which allows profits to be taxed in the country where they are earned, and not again when they are brought home. That would unlock for reinvestment in the U.S. the $1.4 trillion in American corporate profits earned overseas that remain parked there to avoid U.S. double taxation.
The GOP Jobs Plan also recognizes the enormous problem of excessive, runaway regulation, which increases the cost of production, and so further discourages it. Reducing such costs would consequently increase production, economic growth, and jobs.
Step one in the plan to reduce such regulatory burdens is to repeal Obamacare, with its employer mandate adding to the cost of each job by requiring employers to buy more expensive, politically driven health insurance coverage for every employee. That repeal would also reduce future taxes and spending by trillions as well.
Further critical relief would result from the GOP Jobs Plan plank to repeal Dodd-Frank, which is threatening to squelch credit for businesses and consumers essential to jobs and recovery. The GOP proposal cites research showing that higher costs for financial services resulting from Dodd-Frank would cost the economy nearly 5 million jobs by 2015.
Another critical area of overregulation is energy. The Republican program would require the Interior Department to move forward in order to free up leasing and development of drilling on public lands onshore. It also eliminates EPA foot dragging on air permits necessary for offshore drilling, and removes EPA authority for unnecessary and burdensome greenhouse gas regulation altogether. This deregulation would ensure a steady supply of low cost energy, essential to booming economic growth.
Also in the proposal is the REINS (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) Act, which would require Congressional approval of all major federal regulations imposing more than $100 million a year in costs. This will reestablish the original Congressional check on Executive power, and democratic accountability for regulatory burdens, so politicians can no longer hide behind faceless bureaucrats to evade public scrutiny for regulatory drains on our freedom and prosperity. This would provide an important solution to excessive regulatory burdens and costs across the board.
The Tea Party will favor the plan's plank for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would include necessary tax and spending limitations in the Constitution. Also included is a statutory line item veto, giving the President more power to cut spending. Reduced government spending, deficits and debt will reduce the government drain on resources in the private economy needed to create jobs and growth.
Finally, the plan even includes a provision for free trade, giving the President renewed fast track authority to negotiate further trade agreements eliminating foreign trade barriers and opening new markets for American goods. For nearly 3 years, President Obama failed to even send to Congress free trade agreements President Bush had negotiated with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. But that didn't stop him from political rhetoric blaming Congress for failing to pass them, though Congress did approve them within weeks of Obama finally submitting them. That abusive rhetorical style veers into dishonorable.
The GOP program is an exciting, comprehensive strategy for creating another generation-long economic boom. It includes all the components of Re04-03-17aganomics under Congressional control--lower tax rates, deregulation, and restrained spending. Besides the economic logic of each of these components discussed above, the experience with Reaganomics proves the plan will work within a year or so of adoption to get the economy booming again.
After Reaganomics was adopted in 1981, the economy took off on a 25-year economic boom in late 1982, what Art Laffer and Steve Moore have rightly called the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet. Twenty million new jobs were created in the first 7 years alone, even while an historic inflation was tamed. American economic growth during the 80s was the equivalent of adding the third largest economy in the world, West Germany, to the American economy.
By contrast, Obama's Jobs Plan is recycled, brain dead, Keynesian economics already tried and failed throughout the Obama Administration, and all around the world for decades before wherever it has been tried. It is about half the size of Obama's nearly one trillion dollar 2009 so-called stimulus plan, but contains otherwise the same policies. That 2009 stimulus didn't stimulate anything except runaway government spending, deficits and debt.
Part of the jobs plan is devoted to increased government spending on supposed infrastructure, which only recalls the laughable ``shovel ready'' jobs of Obama's 2009 stimulus (even Obama has joked about it). Another part is increased spending to bail out spendthrift Democrat states, which Obama calls hiring more teachers, firemen and cops (a state and local government function, not a federal function).
But economic growth is not based on increased government spending, a fallacy which Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Steve Moore has rightly labeled ``tooth fairy'' economics. That is because the money for such spending needs to come from somewhere, and so drains the private sector to the extent of such increased government spending, leaving no net effect in any event.
What drives economic growth and prosperity is incentives for increased production, as Reaganomics proved. Obama's assault on such incentives is why trillions are sitting on corporate and bank balance sheets, and America is suffering a capital strike and capital flight. The Occupy Wall Street protestors in threatening property and profits are just further undermining incentives and contributing to that capital strike and capital flight, which only contributes further to extended and increased unemployment.
The other half of the jobs plan includes temporary payroll tax cuts, which are a continuation and expansion of temporary payroll tax cuts Obama convinced the December, 2010 lame duck Congress to adopt for this year. But such temporary tax reductions do not stimulate economic growth and jobs either, as permanent cuts and incentives are necessary for permanent jobs. That was just proved by the failure of this year's temporary payroll tax cut to promote the long overdue recovery.
But even worse than the 2009 stimulus is that this current half stimulus echo is accompanied by Obama's proposal for $1.5 trillion in permanent tax increases. That now includes Obama's support for a 5% millionaire's surtax. Those permanent increases only further reduce incentives for production, and only contribute further to economic downturn and stagnation under any economic theory.
Those tax increases, moreover, would come on top of all the tax increases Obama has already enacted under current law for 2013, which major media institutions as well as most of the public are unaware. In that year, the Obamacare tax increases go into effect, and the Bush tax cuts expire, which Obama has refused to renew for the nation's job creators, investors, and more significant small businesses. Under those tax increases, the top tax rates for every major federal tax, except the corporate income tax, already virtually the highest in the industrialized world, with no relief in sight. .....
In sharp contrast to Reaganomics, such Keynesian Obamanomics has already failed miserably to generate a timely recovery consistent with the history of the American economy. Before this last recession, since the Great Depression, recessions in America have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously lasting 16 months. But here we are 46 months after the last recession started, and still no real economic recovery, with unemployment still [at] 9%, the longest period of unemployment that high since the Great Depression.
Moreover, it cannot be said this is because the recession was so bad, as the experience in America has been the deeper the recession the stronger the recovery. Based on these historical precedents, we should be nearing the end of the second year of a booming economy right now. In this crisis, for Obama to now just advocate more of the same, with only new, warmed over rhetoric, is a complete abdication of leadership. Moreover, at this point, outdated economists still peddling hoary Keynesian fallacies should be subject to civil liability for fraud.
As I explain in my new publication just out this week from Encounter Books, ``Obama and the Crash of 2013,'' more likely than recovery is a renewed double dip recession in 2013, with all the tax rate increases, regulatory burdens building to a crescendo, rising interest rates by then, etc. resulting from Obamanomics. Congressional Republicans should just tell Obama thanks, but no thanks, on his Jobs Plan, and pass their own plan proven to work. Then they can insist he explain to the public why he stands in the way.
It is a very interesting article there in Forbes, and it is a fairly long one, but I think it puts in adequately the argument for adoption of this legislation, but it also points out one of the results.
I would point out, in Investors Business Daily, an editorial entitled ``Better in Rwanda.'' It says:
The U.S. has slipped again in world rankings that assess the ease of starting a new business. If we're to bring down our stubbornly high unemployment rate, this trend has to be reversed.
According to the World Bank's ``Doing Business 2012'' report, America is 13th among 183 countries ranked in the ``Starting a Business'' category. In the 2011 report, the U.S. ranked 11th. The year before, it was No. 8.
In 2009, the U.S. was ranked No. 6. It was fourth in 2008 and third in 2007.
These are not Republican documents. This is not a Republican assessment. This is the assessment according to the World Bank: that doing business in the United States of America has gone from the third best country to do business in, in 2007, to 13th in 2012.
This is ample and adequate proof that we have borrowed too much, we have taxed too much, we have issued so many regulations that we have people such as Mr. Langone, the founder of Home Depot--who I will quote from in a minute--who says that today he could not start Home Depot all over again, one of the great success stories, by the way, in recent years.
In the 2012 ranking, the U.S. trailed such job creators as Macedonia, Georgia, Rwanda, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Armenia and Puerto Rico, which are ranked No. 6 through No. 12.
Big companies aren't usually founded as multinational corporations. Most begin as small businesses. And it's small businesses--which employ more than half of the domestic nongovernment workforce--that generate the bulk of new employment opportunities.
From this article:
Our own research shows that small businesses create more than 80% of the new jobs in this country. This isn't some fantasy we've cooked up. It's been confirmed in the New York Times by reporter Steve Lohr, who wrote in September that it's an ``irrefutable conclusion that small businesses are this country's jobs creators. Two-thirds of net new jobs are created by companies with fewer than 500 employees,'' Lohr wrote, ``which is the government's definition of a small business.''
But job creation is more than a function of size. Lohr cites a National Bureau of Economic Research report that says the age of a business is the biggest factor. ``Start-ups,'' says John C. Haltiwanger, a coauthor of the study and an economist at the University of Maryland, ``are where the job creation really actually occurs.''
Yet it's the small and new businesses that are being choked by government policy. The capital gains tax rate on investments held more than a year, Lohr wrote, directly impacts angel investors' role in providing seed capital for startups. This is a rate that the administration wants to hike from 15% to 20% on households earning more than $250,000 a year.
That's just a single instance of poor public policy. There are many more in the 160,000 pages of federal regulations and in the web of state and local rules that squeeze small businesses and start-ups so tightly that they simply cannot hire. Until this burden is lifted, America's jobs problem is not going to get any better.
Quite an indictment that the United States of America, the beacon of liberty and hope and freedom, an example to all the world, has gone from the third best place to do business, to start a business in the world, now to No. 13 in just 5 short years.
So what is the result? I would point out to my colleagues that a person such as Mr. Langone, whom I have watched on television on several occasions, certainly an outspoken individual to say the least, says he could not start his business again under the present environment.
I quote from a Wall Street Journal article, October 15, 2010, entitled, ``Stop Bashing Business, Mr. President,'' by Ken Langone.
The subtitle is, ``If we tried to start The Home Depot today, it's a stone cold certainty that it would never have gotten off the ground.''
I quote from his article.
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated--
Mr. Langone is writing to the President in this--
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.
It is quite an indictment. He goes on to say:
Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase--never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-Ðrapacious trial lawyers.
He goes on to say:
I stand behind no one in my enthusiasm and dedication to improving our society and especially our health care. It is worth adding that it makes little sense to send Treasury checks to high net-worth people in the form of Social Security. That includes you, me and scores of members of Congress. Why not cut through that red tape, apply a basic means test to that program to make sure that money actually reduces federal national spending and isn't simply shifted elsewhere.
So it is a very interesting article. He says:
A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create a new kind of home-Ðimprovement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible. We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.
Then he goes on to say:
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.
A man by the name of Jim McNerney is the CEO of Boeing Company. He writes: ``What Business Wants From Washington.'' Again, I quote from October 31, 2011. Mr. McNerney says:
America works best when American business and government complement one another: Business plays the vital role in economic expansion and job creation, while government oversees the environment in which businesses can innovate and compete. This approach fueled prosperity for generations and produced the world's largest and most powerful economy. We seem far adrift of that ideal today. The regulatory climate is a perfect example. A tsunami of new rules and regulations from an alphabet soup of federal agencies is paralyzing investment and increasing by tens of billions of dollars the compliance costs for small and large businesses.
No one wants to discard truly meaningful public safety or environmental regulations. But what we face is a jobs crisis and regulators charged with protecting the interests of the people are making worse the problem that is hurting them most. Regulatory relief in the energy sector alone could create up to two million new jobs and we won't have to borrow a penny to pay for it.
He goes on to talk about the supercommittee. He says the White House and Congress should build on that momentum and ``enact comprehensive pro-growth tax reform that benefits everyone; proceed with regulatory reform; and reform and restructure existing entitlement programs.''
If Washington can once again find the ability to mix democracy and effective governing, American business will once again unleash America's economic potential.
So Mr. McNerney, in his article, reflects the views of everybody I talk to, small businesses and large. They want tax relief. They want regulatory relief. In fact, what they want more than anything else is some kind of certainty about the economic future and the playing field in which they will have to compete. Will there be increasing regulatory burden? Will there be a raise in taxes, as is facing us in 2013? Can we have a tax code they can understand and comprehend that is fair to one and all? Can they unleash their savings accounts and the money they have kept in reserve and invest and hire with some confidence that there will be a return on that investment, that they will succeed for themselves and their children?
That is what this jobs bill is all about. That is what we are trying to get done. This is an attempt to look at the problems America faces today, which, by the way, do spill over onto our national security problems, as the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff pointed out.
So it affects all of America. It hurts us in so many ways. Yet we sit here, and apparently the select committee, the supercommittee as it is called, is at some kind of gridlock. We sit here today with one amendment here, one amendment here, back and forth, and then run right out to the media and attack each other for being uncooperative and why are we not more congenial and why are we not willing to compromise.
Well, I will plead guilty for perhaps not being willing to compromise on some issues because some issues are a matter of principle. We do not compromise principle, I have found out. But we do come forth with proposals and try to find those on which we can agree. I do not know why we do not agree on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Every State, every mayor, every city councilman, every county supervisor, every one of them is faced with the first problem of a balanced budget.
Why should we exempt ourselves? Why can't we together work out the details concerning a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution? The overwhelming majority of Americans would heave a sigh of relief if we ever did that because then they would know we would be more careful stewards of their tax dollars. It seems to me we could move forward with that.
Enhanced rescission authority. I believe the President of the United States should have enhanced rescission authority, what we used to know of as the old line-item veto, taking those lines in appropriations bills he objects to and vetoing them--and I will not go through the complications of how it is done--but have them taken out, with certain restrictions as to how many times he could do it. Then, like every Governor--not every Governor but most Governors in America have--to line item out, without having to veto the entire appropriations bill, sometimes maybe even causing damage to our ability to govern.
I am well aware if we voted for an enhanced rescission by the Congress of the United States, signed by the President, the President would probably line-item veto some programs that I would object to him doing so. I am willing--more than willing--to take that pain as opposed to today where we continue to have appropriations bills which in many cases people have not read or truly understand.
Tax reform. Every place I go people talk to me about the need for tax reform. I have yet to meet an American who understands completely the Tax Code. I have yet to meet an American who believes our Tax Code is fair. I have yet to meet an American who says: If you would just give me three tax brackets, a very small number of deductions, and then I could fill out my tax return on a post card or in the case of some of the countries--the Baltic countries that used to be under the Soviet Union--on my computer. Then you would see greater compliance, you would see less of a need for the IRS, and you would see Americans more than willing to pay their fair share if they believed the system was fair.
It is not fair when major corporations and individuals pay no taxes because they have bright lawyers, and they take advantage of all of the loopholes and deductions they have been able to get put into the Tax Code over the years with the help of very powerful lobbyists in this town.
Repatriation and territorial reform. The Presiding Officer, the Senator from North Carolina, and I have proposed a pretty simple proposal; that is, the $1.4 trillion that is now sitting overseas because they will not bring it back because of the tax situation; that we could bring that money home, and we could provide a permanent incentive with that for repatriating these foreign earnings.
I say to my friend from North Carolina, I have been kind of astonished at some of the resistance to this where people say it would not do any good. Help me out. It would not do any good to bring $1.4 trillion back to the United States of America? Do we really believe that would just go in peoples' wallets and purses? Of course not.
The Senator from North Carolina and I have talked to too many people, corporation executives, who have said: Yes, I will not only create jobs and invest that money, but I will give you a plan. I will give a plan that we will implement with that money--that IBM or Boeing or other major corporations that have this money parked overseas.
They are enthusiastic about it. Yet, unbelievably, there are people who argue that it would have no effect whatsoever on our economy. It is hard to understand.
Now we obviously get into ObamaCare. I noticed that the latest polling showed, I believe, that some 54 percent of the American people want the health care law repealed. Thirty-some percent still support it. The fact is that over time, as Americans learn more and more about the health care law we passed, they have become more and more opposed to it. They are angry because the whole purpose of the health care act was to provide all Americans with health care that is affordable but also to bend the curve of the inflation of health care in America because we all know the present inflation of health care is unsustainable. It is unsustainable. Yet what has been the result since the passage? Inflation of health care continues to go up; the cost of health care, whether it be to the men and women serving or average citizens, continues to go up, and it has to stop. We need to look at that and look at medical malpractice reform. In Texas today, they passed medical malpractice reform, and it seems to work, and most people are happy with it.
The Dodd-Frank bill--it still is stunning to me that we passed this regulatory reform bill; they called it a financial takeover that the Dodd-Frank bill is commonly known as--the whole purpose of it was that we would have legislation that would ensure that never again would any institution be too big to fail because the taxpayers never again should have to bail out any financial institution. Is there anybody who believes that these huge institutions on Wall Street haven't grown bigger, that they are not bigger to fail than they used to be? The fact is that they are. What did we get? We got a whole bunch of regulations and different bureaucracies, some of them less accountable than others, and obviously a damper on some of the financial activities.
We need to make sure no financial institution is too big to fail. We need to assure the American people that never again will they suffer the way they have during this period of time because of the malfeasance of others. Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank bill did not achieve that goal.
We need to have a moratorium on regulations. Senator Johnson of Wisconsin has a bill that prohibits any Federal agency from issuing new regulations until the unemployment rate is equal to or less than 7.7 percent. Senators Snowe and Coburn have introduced legislation that is part of this Freedom from Restrictive Excessive Executive Demands and Onerous Mandates Act, which strengthens and streamlines the regulatory act by requiring regulators to include ``indirect economic impacts'' in small business analyses, requiring periodic review and sunset of existing rules, and expanding business review panels as a requirement for all Federal agencies instead of just the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
I notice my colleague, Dr. Barrasso, from Wyoming on the floor, who knows more about programs in the health care reform act. I will try to be polite and refer to it today as the health care reform act.
I ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with the Senator from Wyoming.
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Mr. McCAIN. Can we return just for a minute to medical malpractice reform because many people, when you talk about that, believe there has to be appropriate compensation when malpractice occurs. We all know malpractice occurs, so we don't want the innocent victims of medical malpractice--however it occurs in the health care scenario--to not be able to get just compensation in the case of malpractice on the part of the caregiver.
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Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator. I appreciate his unique expertise in the health care issues that are still transcendent in this country. I thank him for his enormous contributions.
I want to continue with some of this legislation.
The Unfunded Mandates Accountability Act, which was originally an act of Senator Portman's, requires agencies specifically to address the potential effect of new regulations on job creation and to consider market-based and nongovernmental alternatives to regulation, broadens the scope of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act to include rules issued by independent agencies and rules that impose direct or indirect economic costs of $100 million or more, requires agencies to adopt the least burdensome regulatory options and achieves the goal of the statute authorizing the rule and creates a meaningful right to judicial review of an agency's compliance with the law.
If there is anything that has grown out of control, in the view of this Member, it is government regulations. First, we had a trickle, but now it is a flood, of government regulations, which then impose additional costs, which then take money away from job creation and, in particular, small business people. This is where accountability of the unfunded mandates is, at the very least, called for.
Senator Barrasso may want to discuss this next provision. The Government Litigation Savings Act reforms the Equal Access to Justice Act by disallowing the reimbursement of attorneys' fees and costs to well-funded special interest groups that repeatedly sue the Federal Government. The bill retains Federal reimbursements for individuals, small businesses, veterans, and others who must fight in court against wrongful government action by eliminating taxpayer-funded reimbursement of attorneys' fees for wealthy special interest groups. The legislation helps eliminate repeated procedural lawsuits that delay permitting exploration and land management.
If the Senator would like to comment.
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Mr. McCAIN. I thank my friend.
Included in this package is the Employment Protection Act, introduced by Senator Toomey. It requires the EPA to analyze the impact on unemployment levels and economic activity before issuing any regulation, policy statement, guidance document, endangerment finding or denying any permit. Each analysis is required to include a description of estimated job losses and decreased economic activity due to the denial of a permit, including any permit denied under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Senator Johanns has contributed the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, which prevents the EPA from regulating dust in rural America while still maintaining protections to public health under the Clean Air Act.
The National Labor Relations Board reform was introduced by Senator Graham of South Carolina. From backdoor card check, to threatened jobs in South Carolina, the out-of-control National Labor Relations Board is paying back union officials at the expense of worker rights and jobs. To create more jobs, legislation prohibiting the NLRB from stopping new plants and legislation to prevent coercive, quick-snap union elections should be passed.
I am sure my colleagues are very well aware of the unprecedented and incredible action by the NLRB that basically prohibited a major aircraft manufacturing company from locating in the State of South Carolina, where it is a right-to-work State--an unbelievable overreach by a Federal bureaucracy--which still staggers the imagination, but it also shows that elections have consequences.
There is also the Government Neutrality and Contracting Act. It repeals the President's order requiring government-funded construction projects to only use union labor. This would reduce costs of Federal jobs projects by as much as 18 percent. That was Senator Vitter's contribution.
Senator Shelby has introduced the Financial Regulatory Responsibility Act, which requires financial regulators to conduct consistent economic analysis on every new rule they propose, provide clear justification for the rules, and determine the economic impacts of proposed rulemakings, including their effects on job growth and net job creation.
With so many of these pieces of legislation I am talking about, a lot of Americans might say: Don't we do that already? Unfortunately, we don't.
Senator Roberts has the Regulatory Responsibility for our Economy Act, which codifies and strengthens President Obama's January 18 Executive order that directs agencies
within to review, modify, streamline, expand or repeal those significant regulatory actions that are duplicative, unnecessary, overly burdensome or would have significant economic impacts on Americans.
Congressman Gibbs, over on the House side, has the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which eliminates a new duplicate EPA regulation that will cost millions of dollars to implement without providing additional environmental protection.
On domestic job energy promotion we have, from Senator Vitter, the Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act that would require the Department of the Interior to move forward with offshore energy exploration and create a timeframe for environmental and judicial review.
Senator Murkowski has included the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, which eliminates the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the EPA's decisionmaking process for air permits, which is delaying energy exploration in the Alaska and outercontinental shelf. It will create over 50,000 jobs and produce 1 million barrels of oil a day.
There is no one in this body who knows as much about these issues as the distinguished Senator from Alaska.
Senator Barrasso again has brought forward the American Energy and Western Jobs Act. The bill streamlines the preleasing, leasing, and developmental process for drilling on public land and requires the administration to create goals for American oil and gas production.
The Mining Jobs Protection Act by Senators McConnell, Inhofe, and Paul requires the EPA to use or lose their 404 permitting review authority. Under this bill, the EPA will have 60 days to voice concerns about a permit application or the permit moves forward. Any concerns voiced by the EPA would need to be published in the Federal Register within 30 days.
Senator Inhofe has contributed the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which prohibits the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.
The Repeal Restrictions on Government Use of Domestic Alternative Fuels Act would repeal section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which prohibits Federal agencies from contracting for alternative fuels such as coal-to-liquid fuel.
The Public Lands Job Creation Act of Senator Heller eliminates the burdensome and unnecessary delay in approval of projects on Federal lands by allowing the permitting process to move forward unless the Department of the Interior objects within 45 days. This will streamline the permitting process for domestic energy and mineral production on BLM lands without compromising environmental analysis.
Senator McConnell has introduced the renew trade promotion authority, which would provide the President with fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements that will eliminate foreign trade barriers and open new markets for American goods.
We all know trade promotion authority is vital to the eventual enactment of free-trade agreements. I am incredibly depressed that we would not have renewed this trade promotion authority along with the passage of the long overdue free-trade agreements we just passed through this body.
The President and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have become fond of saying Republicans have no plan for creating jobs and putting America back on a path to fiscal prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I have just laid out in the plan before us today, we have compiled many job-creating measures offered by our colleagues in the Senate.
Furthermore, since January, our colleagues in the House of Representatives have passed at least 22 job-creating bills. Guess how many of the bills that were passed by the House of Representatives have gotten consideration in the Senate. Five.
Similar to our plan, our colleagues in the House have focused a great deal of attention on empowering small businesses and reducing government barriers to job creation. Here are just a few of the commonsense, job-creating measures passed by the House, none of which have been considered by the Senate: review of Federal regulations, reducing regulatory burdens, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Improvement Act, Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, Transparency and Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, and the EPA Regulatory Relief Act.
So the next time we hear the President of the United States say Republicans are blocking or have failed to take up or failed to bring forward a proposal, we have proposals, and we have measures that have been passed by the House. The proposals in this jobs plan bill deserve the consideration of this body.
We need to prove to the American people that we will do everything we can to eliminate the waste of their hard-earned dollars. Enacting an enhanced rescission authority to give the President statutory line-item veto authority to reduce wasteful spending is an issue we have been looking at for years.
Why do we need to grant the President enhanced rescission line-item veto authority? According to a database created by Taxpayers Against Earmarks, washingtonwatch.com, and Taxpayers for Common Sense, for fiscal year 2011, Members requested over 39,000 earmarks totaling over $130 billion. Just last December, we were forced to consider, at the very last minute, an Omnibus appropriations bill that was 1,924 pages long and contained the funding for all 12 of the annual appropriations bills for a grand total of $1.1 trillion. In the short time I had to review that massive piece of legislation before it was brought to the floor, I identified approximately 6,488 earmarks, totaling nearly $8.3 billion.
We need an enhanced rescission act.
Thankfully, the massive omnibus was not enacted. But these earmarks, and the process by which they make their way into spending bills, are evidence that the system is badly broken and in need of reforms.
I have more to say, and I have taken too much time in the eyes of many of my colleagues, perhaps, and I want to apologize to any of my colleagues who had planned to speak on the floor and have been preempted by my long remarks. But I feel that we have an obligation to the American people to address the issues that are of greatest concern and the greatest amount of pain to them today, and that is jobs and the economy--jobs and the economy.
I care a lot about our national security challenges and I care a lot about what is going in the world. But when I go home and a woman stands up at a townhall meeting with her two children and says, I don't have a job and I am being kicked out of my home next week; when we have people who are being thrown out of their houses, and over half of the homes in my home State of Arizona are under water--in other words, worth less than the mortgage payments they are required to make--when we have chronic unemployment that in some cases, such as down in Yuma, AZ, is well into double digits, then we have to get going on getting some jobs and the economy back on the right track.
I want to repeat--and I don't mean to be confrontational with my colleagues, but we tried for 2 years, when the other side had the majority in the House and the Senate and they had passed major pieces of legislation that were advertised to get our economy back on track--they didn't--can't we try something different? Can't we try the kinds of things that have brought us out of other recessions? Can't we ask our colleagues in the Senate to create a simplified tax system that the Heritage Foundation says, by lowering the corporate rate to 25 percent, the number of jobs in the United States would grow on an average of 581,000 annually from 2011 to 2020? Can't we look at this regulatory system, which has put such a damper on small businesses and large? Can't we give American people a break from the flood of new regulations that continues to come down and is a major factor in this environment of uncertainty amongst businesses small and large?
The approval rating of the American people of Congress is now, the latest poll I saw, 9 percent. That is something that I joke about, but it is also something that grieves me a great deal because I believe the overwhelming majority of the Members of Congress are here and are dedicated to serving their constituents in the most honorable fashion and in the best possible way they can, according to their values and their principles.
But it is a fact that the American people are very angry and they are very upset. One of the major reasons is, of course, they have not seen progress in the economy. And that is very understandable. We are now seeing these Occupy Wall Street people. The tea partiers will probably be rejuvenated. We are seeing expressions of anger and frustration all over the country, and it is unfortunate. But I believe that a couple of things are going to happen unless we act in a more efficient fashion that addresses the concerns of the American people, and that is I believe you will see the rise of a third party in this country, and I think also you will see greater and greater manifestations of opposition to business as usual here in Washington.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I am more than eager to sit down with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and come together particularly on some of the issues that clearly we have stated on both sides we are in favor of.
Again, my apologies to my colleagues whose time I may have preempted on the floor. But I think this issue of jobs, which we will be voting on tomorrow, is one that deserved more than passing attention.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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