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Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I thank, first of all, my colleague from California, Senator Boxer. I happened to be on the Senate floor and listened to my Republican colleagues as they were talking about the estate tax. I think we have to clarify what this legislation is all about that we will be voting on in a few minutes. It is an effort to fully protect about 98 percent of Americans from the uncertainty as to whether their income tax will go up on January 1. That is what this bill is about. There are a lot of other problems we have, including the fiscal cliff we have been talking about.
I understand the concerns we have with the estate tax. We have a problem with the physician reimbursement under Medicare. We have problems with the sequestration orders and the impact it would have on all of our agencies whether it is national security or the domestic budget. We have concerns about extending tax provisions for the energy sector of our economy. We have the uncertainty of whether we will extend the unemployment insurance additional benefits. All of those are legitimate concerns.
I hope the Republicans and Democrats will come together to deal with the deficit. That is what we should do. I can tell everyone I have been one of those Senators meeting with Republicans, meeting with my Democratic colleagues, and that is what we want to do. We want to give predictability to the American people about a credible plan to deal with our deficit.
I was proud to be one of the Democrats on the Budget Committee in the Senate. The Presiding Officer helped to say let's use the Simpson-Bowles model to try to get a bipartisan agreement on a budget document much earlier this year so we could come forward with a credible plan to deal with the deficit. We are now just a few weeks away when Congress is likely to go out of session for the November elections. We have heard in the House they are talking about leaving the third week of September. So what we are trying to do--and this is a pretty simple bill--is to say for the overwhelming majority, 98 percent, let's at least give the certainty to the people of our country so they know on January 1 their tax rates will not go up. Why do we want to do that? Because predictability gives confidence. Confidence allows people and consumers to buy and helps to grow our economy. That is why we do it.
Sure, it is frustrating we can't deal with everything right now. We want to deal with everything, but we are not going to be able to come to that political agreement. Can't we at least come to the agreement to protect the vast majority of the taxpayers of this country?
The bill we will be voting on very shortly says we would not let the personal income tax rates go up for those whose incomes are up to $250,000. As Senator Boxer pointed out, every income-tax payer gets the advantage of it. If you make $1 million, you get the lower tax rates on the first $250,000. That way everyone gets the advantage.
We also protect the refundable child tax credit because we know American families depend upon that refundable tax credit. I want to thank the majority leader for putting this into the bill. That is part of a family's planning process to know whether they can buy consumer goods. We included that in the legislation that we will have a chance to vote on. We included the American opportunity tax credit. The Presiding Officer is very involved in that. That is to help families afford college education.
I was at a university meeting over the weekend and looked at the debt that our college graduates are inheriting as they go through college. Well, we extend in this bill the help we give to working families to be able to afford a college education for their children, which helps to build this great Nation. It helps to make us more competitive. We have also included in the legislation the small business expenses because we want to give predictability to small businesses to go out and buy capital assets so they can turn around and help our economy grow.
So I just wanted to point out some pretty simple choices. Do we believe we should give the predictability that I think everybody agrees on? Why can't we keep the bill simple and get it done? My Republican colleagues want to find some way to be able to vote no to help the overwhelming majority of the people in this country.
I will say this again. If you make $1 million, you are going to get $6,000 of relief under this bill. Isn't that enough? Then let's come together and hopefully use the remainder of this year or early next year to get a credible plan and get our deficit under control. Let's give confidence to the American people so we will not face that fiscal cliff, and we will get our job done. The purpose of this is to create jobs.
We need to create more jobs in our country.
I wish to share with my colleagues this photograph that was taken. I will ask my colleagues where they think this photograph took place, with many people sewing and manufacturing clothing. We can see the U.S. flag there. The next question is, When do my colleagues think this photograph was taken? The 1920s? The 1930s? I remember growing up in Baltimore and seeing all of the different clothing manufacturers located in my city. So perhaps this is a historic photograph. It is not. It was just recently taken in Westminster, MD. It is the English American Tailoring Company, with 380 jobs, producing the finest suits in the world.
I show this photograph to demonstrate that we can succeed in manufacturing in America. In the last 28 months, we have seen an increase of 500,000 jobs in manufacturing in America. That is the largest growth since 1995 in our country. We have to fight for the jobs and keep our jobs here in America.
I had a chance to talk with English American Tailoring Company union employees. They are happy not because they are happy to have a job--everyone is happy to have a job--they know they have a good job in a company that cares about them, and they take pride in what they are making. Make it in America. In Maryland, in the United States, we have a company that makes the best custom suits in the world because they are American made and because they have the best technology and the best quality of any company in the world.
Let me tell my colleagues something else that might surprise them. They had a 15-percent increase in sales this year. They added an additional 50 employees this year. They are now making plans to break ground on a training facility in Westminster, MD. They have confidence in their ability to produce the right product for America and to create the jobs and keep the jobs here.
We have done this over and over in America. I know my colleagues have taken the floor to talk about the auto manufacturing industry, with the best sales in 5 years. Chrysler's sales have increased 34 percent; General Motors is up 12 percent; Ford is up 5 percent; 10,000 new jobs at Ford Motor Company; 4,000 coming from Mexico back to the United States. Make it in America. Our U.S. auto manufacturers are making it in America. We can create more jobs if we just create the right climate.
We need to help small business. I agree that is where most of the job growth will take place. That is where most of the new innovation comes from. So why don't we take up sensible legislation that the majority leader talked about that would reward small companies that are creating more jobs by giving tax credits? I am also proud of a provision in that bill to increase surety bonds for small companies so they can compete. That is what we should be doing.
We need trade policies. I want to give another bit of good news. I see Senator Nelson is on the floor, and he was instrumental in the citrus trust fund. But we have the wool trust fund and the cotton trust fund also approved by the Senate Finance Committee. Why is that important for this contract we have here? This company, English American Tailoring, makes quality suits, but they have to import the wool because the wool is not available in America. Here is what happens. The tariff today on that wool coming into America is higher than the finished suit, if it was imported into America, which encourages manufacturing outside of America. That makes absolutely no sense at all. That is why we have a wool trust fund--to correct this inverted tariff so that we can make it competitive to manufacture in America. That is why we have it. I am proud that by a unanimous vote, we are recommending that from the Senate Finance Committee. I hope we can find the cooperation on this floor to get that done.
I also want to make sure that the citrus industry in Florida is taken care of, so we take care of the citrus trust fund and the cotton trust fund. Shirts are manufactured today--my friend from New Jersey, Senator Menendez, helped on this, and Senator Schumer helped a great deal with the wool trust fund. We make cotton shirts in New Jersey. We can make those shirts because we can manufacture more efficiently than other countries, but we can't have an inverted tariff. We can't afford to make it more expensive to manufacture than import. That is what that is about. These are commonsense policies.
We need tax policies that make sense. Senator Stabenow has been working hard on the Bring Jobs Home Act so that we actually reward companies that bring their jobs back to America and we don't allow taxpayers to foot the bill for those who want to take their jobs overseas.
The bottom line is that we can make it in America. We can make it in America. We are doing that in Maryland, and we are doing it throughout the country. We need sensible policies.
We also need the confidence of consumers about the take-home pay they are going to have in order to be able to buy the suits manufactured by English American Tailoring or other companies in our community or to buy a car manufactured here in America. They want to do that, but they need the confidence.
So don't complicate the bill we are going to be voting on in 1 hour. Don't make it that difficult. It is a pretty simple bill. It says whether we are going to fully protect 98 percent of Americans from seeing their tax rates go up and their paychecks go down on January 1 and help every American, regardless of their income, with the first $250,000 of taxable income.
I hope we will then make a commitment, Democrats and Republicans, to put aside our partisan differences and listen to each other and come up with a credible plan that answers not just the issues--the only issue raised by my Republican colleagues, which is the estate tax--but also answers the questions of our physicians for Medicare and answers the problems of our people who depend upon government, the sequestration orders. Let's get it together and get all of that done, but let's not let the traditional partisan differences stop us from protecting 98 percent of Americans, so that companies such as English American Tailoring can continue to expand and create more jobs here in America to help our economy grow because people will be willing to buy the suits, knowing there is some confidence in the Tax Code that allows them to plan for their future.
I urge my colleagues to support the efforts we are going to vote on in a few moments.
I yield the floor.
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