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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, the president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, Larry Pope, took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal again to blame all that ails him on the renewable fuels standard for ethanol.
Some may recall he did the same thing back in April 2010 when commodity prices were rising. At that time, he perpetuated a smear campaign and blamed ethanol in an attempt to deflect blame for rising food prices while boosting Smithfield's profits. With this newspaper article, he is back at it again.
I start by referring to Mr. Pope as Henny Penny from the children's folktale ``Chicken Little.'' Every time Smithfield has to pay a little more to America's corn farmers to feed his hogs, Mr. Pope starts with the same argument that the sky is falling, and it is all ethanol's fault.
Mr. Pope's opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal might lead some to believe he is very knowledgeable about the ethanol industry. But there are many areas of ethanol he doesn't know much about.
He continues to perpetuate the myth that ethanol production consumes 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. Mr. Pope states: ``Ethanol now consumes more corn than animal agriculture does.''
Everyone with a basic understanding of a livestock farm--even a kernel of corn--or of an ethanol plant knows that is not a true statement. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 37 percent of the corn crop is used in producing ethanol. But--and a very important but--the value of corn does not simply vanish when ethanol is produced.
One-third of the corn--that is, 18 pounds out of every 56-pound bushel--reenters the market as a high-value animal feed called dried distillers grain. I would imagine millions of hogs raised by our farms every year are fed a diet containing this ethanol coproduct. For sure it is a very big feed product for cattle. Of course, Mr. Pope appears to be unaware of its existence.
When the distillers grains are factored in; that is, 18 pounds out of the 56 pounds that is left over after you make ethanol, 43 percent of the corn supply is available for animal feed. Only 28 percent is used for ethanol--unlike the 40 percent Mr. Pope says. This is the inconvenient truth of ethanol detractors. They prefer to live in a bubble where they believe ethanol is diverting corn from livestock use. That is just not the case.
Mr. Pope also proclaims that ``ironically, if the ethanol mandate did not exist, even this year's drought-depleted corn crop would have been more than enough to meet the requirements for livestock feed and food production at decent prices.''
I would like to ask Mr. Pope why he thinks that is the case. Why did farmers plant 96 million acres of corn this year when normally they would plant between 86 and 88 million acres of corn? Why have seed producers spent millions to develop better yielding and drought-resistant traits so we can produce more corn on less acres? The answer is simple: Because this gigantic industry of ethanol is there to consume more corn and more production on each acre.
If not for ethanol, it is very clear farmers wouldn't have planted 96 million acres of corn this year because those are more acres of corn than farmers have planted in this country since 1938. Without ethanol, I doubt we would have seen investment in higher yielding and more drought-tolerant corn plants by our seed corn companies.
I happen to think Mr. Pope is an intelligent man, but he is woefully uninformed on the issue of what the ethanol industry and the demand for corn has done for the size and genetic improvement of the corn crop. It is easy to understand Smithfield's motives. They benefit from an abundant supply of corn, just not the competing demand for it.
What is Smithfield's primary problem? Again, the answer is simple: cost and profit. They still want to pay $2 for a bushel for corn. This is an important point that I hope people understand. For nearly 30 years, until about 2005, companies such as Smithfield had the luxury of buying corn below the cost of production. Corn prices remained for about 30 years between $1.50 a bushel and $3 a bushel. Farmers routinely lost money. The Federal Government then provided economic support for the farmers. Producers such as Smithfield had the best of both worlds.
They were able to buy corn below the cost of production, and they were able to let the Federal Government subsidize their business by guaranteeing a cheap supply of corn.
In the view of corporate livestock producers, subsidies are fine--if they allow them to buy corn below the cost of production. Anybody could look like a genius with that sort of a business model.
Mr. Pope also continues to overstate the impact of corn prices on the consumer. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack recently stated that farmers receive about 14 cents of every dollar spent on food at the grocery store. Farmers get 14 percent and everybody else gets 86 percent, yet the farmers of America are the problem? It happens that that 14 cents works out to be about 3 cents of that 14 cents is because of corn.
A research economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently stated that a 50-percent increase in the price of corn will raise the total grocery shopping bill by about 1 percent. To put it in perspective, the value of corn in a $4 box of corn flakes is about 10 cents.
Mr. Pope also exaggerated the impact of ethanol on food prices in 2010, and he is doing it again. He is using the devastating drought that we now have--over 62 percent of the country and worse in the Midwest, of Iowa where I live--to once again undermine our Nation's food, feed, and fuel producers, and he is doing it--why? To make more money.
Repealing the renewable fuel standard will not bolster Smithfield's profits. Because of the flexibility built into the renewable fuels mandate, a waiver will not significantly reduce corn prices. A recent study by Professor Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University, found that a complete waiver of the renewable fuel standard--that is what the mandate is called--might reduce the corn prices by only 4.6 percent. That report goes on to state:
The desire by livestock groups to see the additional flexibility in ethanol mandates may not result in as large a drop in feed costs as hoped.
..... the flexibility built into the Renewable Fuels Standard allowing obligated parties to carry over blending credits from previous years, significantly lowers the economic impact of a short crop, because it introduces flexibility into that mandate.
The drought is enormous in both scale and severity. But we will not know the true impact until September when harvest begins. The latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate an average yield of 146 bushels per acre. That would result in a harvest of 13 billion bushels. This would still be one of the largest corn harvests.
I suggest those claiming that the sky is falling withhold their call for waiving or repealing the renewable fuel standard. It is a premature action that will not produce desired results and it would increase our dependence upon foreign oil and it would drive up prices at the pump for consumers.
On another point with regard to taxes and the proposals around the Hill to increase taxes, I want to say that over the past few years my colleagues on the other side have come to the floor repeatedly to present a revisionist story regarding the fiscal history of the last two decades. On several occasions I have come to the floor to refute this history. Yet, again and again, the other side continues to present the same distorted facts, including lots of speeches last week.
The general misguided argument is that all of the economic and fiscal success of the 1990s is thanks to big tax increases by the Clinton administration and the 2001 and 2003 bipartisan tax relief is responsible for all of our economic ills and fiscal problems.
Neither of these claims is supported by facts or a basic understanding of economics. I will begin with the Clinton tax increase to which people are giving so much credit. Many on the other side of the aisle argue that the Clinton tax increases are proof that tax increases will not harm our economy today--when they have even heard their own President say otherwise several times, until recently, that you should not increase taxes when you have a depression. These people frequently ask, ``If our economy grew in the 1990s with higher marginal tax rates, how can it be bad to raise marginal taxes to these former levels?'' Engrained in this argument is the assertion that tax hikes can actually be good for our economy.
This assertion fails to take into account numerous economic factors that occurred alongside the Clinton tax increases. The fact is that the economy grew not because of the 1993 tax increases but despite them.
The economy of the mid-1990s is a result of economic conditions that we may never see again. It was a time of great economic expansion due in large part to the advent of the Internet economy. The Internet spawned new technologies and created efficiencies in our economy that have never been matched. In turn, these new technologies and efficiencies spurred startup businesses and new industries. Many seem to forget the huge Y2K fear that gripped the Nation, causing billions and billions in spending that helped prop up what became the infamous Internet bubble that blew up on all of us. Nevertheless, before the bubble burst these factors led to historically low unemployment and high workforce participation. Claiming that this was due to Clinton tax increases is equal to Vice President Gore claiming that he invented the Internet.
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle would be hard-pressed to find many economic studies indicating tax increases are stimulative. The focus of economic research in this area is not about whether tax increases are harmful or beneficial to the economy. Rather, the focus seems to be on the degree to which tax increases are very harmful to the economy. Admittedly, there are wide variations in views of economists on the responsiveness of individuals and businesses to taxes. However, even studies by economists who can hardly be labeled as conservative have concluded that tax increases have a significant negative effect on the economy.
For instance, a 2007 study by Christina Romer, President Obama's former chief economist, found ``tax increases are highly contractionary,'' and ``have very large effects on output.''
In fact, this study found that a tax increase of 1 percent of gross domestic product could lower real GDP by at least 3 percent.
Another likely contributor to the growth of the 1990s was a peace dividend we reaped from the end of the Cold War. We have Ronald Reagan's staredown of the Soviet Union to thank for that phenomenon. The end of the Cold War allowed for a reduction of government spending as a percent of GDP. Coupled with priorities pushed by the Republican-led Congress to reach a balanced budget and to reform welfare, spending as a percentage of GDP dropped to its lowest point in 30 years. With the Government spending less of the people's money, more was left in the hands of the private sector. This allowed the private sector to innovate, to invest, and eventually create jobs. The peace dividend is also the largest contributor to reining in deficits in the 1990s.
The biggest source of deficit reduction, 35 percent, came from the reduction of defense spending. The next biggest source of deficit reduction, 32 percent, came from other revenue because of a growing economy. Another 15 percent came from interest savings.
Let's get to the Clinton tax increase in reducing deficits. The Clinton tax increase, on the other hand, only accounted for 13 percent of the deficit reduction--only 13 percent.
There are further factors that contributed to the economic growth of the 1990s, including the expansion of free trade in the 1997 reduction in the capital gains tax rate. However, in the interest of time I am going to go on to other issues. One thing is clear, though, from this period of the 1990s. The economic growth of that time was not thanks to the Clinton tax increase nor was it a major player in bringing our deficit into balance.
Today we cannot rely on the unique economic conditions we experienced during that decade of the 1990s, some of which were artificial, to buttress the negative effects of the tax increase. In fact, we are in the middle of one of the worst economic eras since the Great Depression. Unemployment has remained above 8 percent now for over 41 straight months, almost 3 1/2 years, in other words. Economic growth has been anemic.
Each passing day economic indicators are pointing more and more to the chance of a double-dip worldwide recession. Last Wednesday it was reported that Great Britain's economy contracted at the rate of .7 percent. Then on Friday it was reported that our own economy is stalling. Real GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent, continuing its downward trend for three straight quarters. In a recent blog post, Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker addressed the question of whether raising taxes on high-income earners is a very good idea. In his post, Professor Becker entertained arguments--these were arguments by the supporters of the tax increases--by hypothesizing that there is a 50-50 chance that higher taxes on the so-called rich would damage the economy.
Of course I believe, as does Professor Becker, that in reality this chance is much higher than 50-50. However, even granting the other side this generous assumption he concluded the benefit of raising taxes was outweighed by the potential damage they would cause. According to Professor Becker, even if richer individuals only slightly reduce their work hours and reduce their effort at work, the gain in tax revenue from these individuals would not be great. In contrast, ``the costs to the economy in the chance that higher taxes greatly discourage their efforts is likely to be substantial in terms of fewer hours worked and less work effort by high-income individuals, reduced incentives to start businesses, less investment in their human capital, investing abroad rather than in [this country] ..... and even migration abroad.''
Yet my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are pushing billions of dollars in tax increases. Last week they voted to increase taxes on nearly 1 million flowthrough businesses. Their vote to increase taxes on job creators came on the heels of an Ernst and Young study detailing its ramifications. This study concluded that these proposed tax hikes--on top of the 3.8-percent tax increase on dividends, interest, and capital gains that was added to pay for the health care reform bill--would reduce our economic output by 1.3 percent. The Ernst and Young study also found that real aftertax wages would fall by 1.8 percent as a result of President Obama's policies.
Even in the face of this information, my colleagues on the other side seem all too willing to gamble with the chance that our stalling economy can withstand such a hit. By doing this, they are playing Russian roulette with our economy.
To my colleagues I ask: How certain are you that tax increases on job creators will not be damaging the economy? If you have any doubt, I suggest don't pull the trigger.
I wish to shift gears a little bit to address the record of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief. Just as a perfect storm of good economic conditions blew at the back of the Clinton administration, a perfect storm of bad economic conditions and unpredictable events blew in the face of the Bush administration.
It is undisputed that at the end of the Clinton administration, the Congressional Budget Office was projecting a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 billion. Keep in mind, though, that CBO's projection was based on assumptions that did not pan out.
The CBO failed to predict the bursting of the tech bubble that was so beneficial in the previous years. CBO also did not predict the September 11, 2001 tragedy that wreaked havoc on our economy.
In reaction to the economic recession from these events, Congress enacted the bipartisan 2001 tax relief that cut tax rates across the board, providing tax relief to virtually all taxpayers. Then in 2003, Congress expedited this relief so the benefit of lower rates would take effect more quickly. This resulted in one of the shortest and shallowest economic recessions yet on record. The economy grew for 25 straight quarters, making it the fourth longest period of economic expansion since 1930. Additionally, we had 47 straight months of private sector job gain.
Moreover, the expanding economy led to higher than expected revenues. That is a fact. Revenue actually rose in the years following the tax relief bill, peaking at 18.5 percent of GDP in 2007, well above the historical average of around 18 percent.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office projects that if we extended all the 2001 and 2003 tax relief today, revenues would once again exceed the historical average. Under this scenario, the CBO projects that by 2022 revenues will reach 18.5 percent of GDP.
From 2004 to 2007, the deficit also shrank from a high of $412 billion to a low of $160 billion. That means the budget deficit was cut by more than half in 3 years. Given the trillion dollar deficits we are experiencing under President Obama, a deficit below $200 billion would be very welcome news. Yet CBO projects that even if all the tax increases in President Obama's budget were enacted, deficits would never drop below $500 billion in the 10-year period from 2013 to 2022.
I will give President Obama credit when he says he took office in very tough economic times. The bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting financial crisis gave him a very high hill to climb, but any assertion the 2001 and 2003 tax relief is related to these events is without merit. There is plenty of blame to go around for the housing bubble. It was the culmination of housing policies spanning administrations of both parties. It was further fueled by the Federal Reserve providing historically low interest rates and cheap credit.
However, the President's policies have failed at getting us out of this mess. The President's party passed the President's nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. He claimed this would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. However, the unemployment climbed to a high of 10.1 percent and has never dropped below 8 percent during his almost 4 years in office.
The President's party also passed the health care bill, which the President sold as a job creator, and the financial reform bill that was supposed to fix our financial system. However, both of these bills, which the President signed, have actually turned out to be costly to our economy and a hindrance to job creation.
Now President Obama appears ready to gamble with the economy. He appears to go all in on raising taxes on our Nation's job creators. In doing so, he is betting that raising taxes on the so-called wealthy will result in a political payoff exceeding the chance his actions will throw us back into recession. It is not so long ago that I remember the President saying what I have already referred to in this speech: ``You don't raise taxes in a recession.'' The President's statement is as true now it was then.
Let's end the political theater of holding votes for the purpose of campaign ads. Let's instead actually do what the people sent us here to do. Let us not drive the American economy head long off the fiscal cliff.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I am going to make a unanimous consent request dealing with the same subject.
Before I do that, I am astounded that it took 100 days for the majority to decide that the bill they wanted to send to the House would be blue-slipped because they kept saying it really wasn't subject to a blue slip.
Obviously, the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to make that decision, and they made the decision that the fee in this bill would keep it from being accepted by the House of Representatives.
They have obviously overcome that problem. But they have not overcome some other problems with the legislation. My reason for objecting for people on my side who voted against this bill is because of some unconstitutional provisions that it contains, and issues that don't have to be brought up to guarantee there is adequate legislation for fighting violence against women.
By the way, I believe this act, which has been on the books for more than a decade and a half, is going to be carried on. So there is not going to be a situation where, whether or not we go through this process, there is not going to be legislation protecting women on the books. It is just a question whether it will be expanded in a way that was intended to make the bill controversial so, presumably, it could be made a political issue in an election year.
What bothers me about this whole process--besides the fact it has taken 100 days to get to the point of offering it for conference--is it fits into a pattern of doing things at the last minute. We are 2 days away from a recess, and this is brought up at this particular time. I have to ask why. Why not sometime during the last 100 days?
I also see a pattern of this maneuver fitting into the maneuvers that have been going on ever since, I believe, the spring break we had in the Senate. Ever since then--as reported in an article published in the newspaper we know as Politico a couple of months ago about a strategy between the White House reelection effort and things that go on in the Senate--we seem to have a crisis every week.
We came back from the spring break, and we had the Buffett tax rule. That was carried on for a week. Everybody knew that wasn't going to pass, but we wasted a whole week on the Buffett tax rule.
Then this issue was brought up before and passed about that time as part of a strategy of having a war on women come up as an issue. That ended in this legislation being passed through the Senate but in a way where everybody knew it wasn't going to get through the House of Representatives. But it was a very convenient political issue.
Later on, we had the equal wages for women legislation that came up for about a week. Once again, everybody knew that wasn't going to go anyplace, but it was debated in this assembly, taking up time from a lot of important issues that ought to be dealt with--the economy and creating jobs. We spent a week on that.
Then we spent a week on taxing the rich, and everybody knew that wasn't going to go anywhere.
I think we spent a month on interest rates on student loans. Everybody knew there was a bipartisan solution to that, but nobody wanted to go there until the President had a whole month of going to university campuses to blame Republicans for not passing a bill that would keep interest rates low on student loans.
Then we spent last week on the DISCLOSE Act. Everybody knew that wasn't going to go anyplace.
So we have had a whole spring and summer in this body of accomplishing nothing because there is a strategy between the White House and the leadership of the Senate to help this President get reelected. And to keep away from issues the people of this country are concerned about, which are the economy and creating jobs and the fact that this White House and this Senate aren't going to do anything to work through those issues.
Here in the Senate it is an issue of politics and not an issue of process. I think the American people know the games being played, and they are sick and tired of it.
So I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 406, H.R. 4970, the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; provided further that all after the enacting clause be stricken, the text of the Senate-passed violence against women bill, S. 1925, with a modification that strikes sections 805 and 810 related to the immigration provisions; that the bill be read three times and passed, the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate with a ratio agreed to by both leaders.
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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, over the last few days we have been lectured numerous times that we must protect cyber critical infrastructure; otherwise, our country is in jeopardy. Everybody agrees with that statement. Enhancing cyber security is important to our national security. I support efforts to strengthen our Nation against critical cyber attacks.
However, I take issue with those who have come to the floor and argued that those who don't support this bill are against strengthening our Nation's cyber security. Disagreements over how to address policy matters shouldn't evolve into accusations about a Member's willingness to tackle tough issues. The debate over cyber security legislation has turned from a substantive analysis of the merits into a political blame game as to which side supports defending our Nation more. If we want to tackle big issues such as cyber security, we need to rise above disagreements and work in a constructive manner. Disagreements over policy should be openly and freely debated.
Unfortunately, this isn't how the debate on cyber security proceeded. Instead, before a real debate began, the majority leader cut that debate off. As the discussion of cyber security began on the floor this week, Senators stated that a failure to grant broad new powers to the Federal Government will lead to a cyber 9/11. I agree that if we fail to take action on cyber security, there could be a national security consequence. However, I don't believe giving the Federal Government more regulatory authority over business and industry, as supporters of this bill propose, is the answer to strengthening cyber security.
Chief among my concerns with the pending bill is the role played by the Department of Homeland Security. These concerns stem from oversight that I have conducted on the implementation of a law called the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards Program. That acronym would be CFATS. CFATS was the Department's first major foray into regulation of the chemical sector.
The Department of Homeland Security spent nearly $ 1/2 billion on that program. Now, 5 years later, they have just begun to approve site security plans for the more than 4,000 facilities designated under the rule.
I have continued to conduct oversight on this matter. Despite assurances from the Department of Homeland Security that they fixed all the problems with CFATS, I keep discovering more problems. So now I am baffled why we would take an agency that has proven problems with overseeing a critical infrastructure and give them chief responsibility for our country's cyber security.
Additionally, I am concerned with provisions that restrict the way information is shared. The restrictions imposed under title VII of the bill are a step backward from other information-sharing proposals. This includes the bill I have cosponsored, the SECURE IT bill. The bill before us places the Department of Homeland Security in the role of gatekeeper of cyber threat information. The bill calls for the Department of Homeland Security to share the information in ``as close to real time as possible'' with other agencies. However, this surely will create a bottleneck for information coming into the government.
Further, title VII includes restrictions on what types of information can be shared, limiting the use of it for criminal prosecution, except those that cause imminent harm.
This is exactly the type of restriction on information sharing that the 9/11 Commission warned us about. In fact, the 9/11 Commission said, ``the [wall] resulted in far less information sharing and coordination.'' The 9/11 Commission further added, ``the removal of the wall that existed before 9/11 between intelligence and law enforcement has opened up new opportunities for cooperative action.''
Why would we even consider legislation that could rebuild these walls that threaten our national security? How much of a real debate have we had on those issues I have raised? The lack of a real process in the Senate on this very bill amplifies my substantive concerns.
In fact, this is eerily reminiscent of the debate surrounding the health care reform bill. During that time, then-Speaker of the House Pelosi declared, ``We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.'' Well, we all know how well that worked out. Years of litigation later, the public is still learning what surprises the majority and President Obama had in store for the Nation's health care system.
Now here we are, once again, in the last week before our August summer break, tackling a serious problem that hasn't been given full process.
I do not want cyber security legislation to become another health care reform bill. If we are serious about our Nation's security, then shouldn't we treat it as serious as it really is? We all agree how serious it is.
We are told that the Senate has been working on cyber security for 3 to 5 years. However, we have not been working on this bill before us for that long. The bill before us was introduced 13 days ago, and it was only pending on the floor for 4 days before the motion for cloture was filed. It did not go through the normal committee process. It was not debated or amended. Instead, it was brought straight to the floor, and we are being forced to consider it under a very rushed schedule.
Talking about the danger of cyber attacks for years is not the same as discussing the impact of the actual text of the bill which could become law. The words on the 212 pages of the bill are what must be analyzed, and analyzed in detail.
In fact, no one, except a handful of Senators, actually knows what the bill says or might say. And, of course, that is a process that debate in the U.S. Senate accomplishes or at least tries to accomplish.
We need full process and, unfortunately, that has not happened, and it does not look as if it will happen. Why won't it happen? Because the majority leader has limited debate. This week we were told that a group of Senators and their staff were working on a compromise.
Again, that is something all of us as a body do not know much about. We need an open debate in order to process this, as opposed to huddled, backroom meetings.
I do not think this is the way we are supposed to legislate. The people who elected us expect more. They expect transparency because they know when you get transparency, you have accountability.
How many Senators are prepared to vote on something this important without knowing its impact because we have not followed regular order? Are we to once again pass a bill so that the American public can then, at that time, find out what is in it a la Speaker Pelosi's statement on health care reform?
These are questions that all Senators should consider. And our citizens should know in advance what we are actually considering.
Yesterday, we heard claims that the amendments offered by Republicans were part of some obstructionist tactic. Why isn't the same statement made about the 77 or so amendments filed by Democrats? Somehow, are they acceptable and not obstructionist?
I had three amendments that addressed specific provisions in the bill, and I wanted to have a debate on them.
For example, I have an amendment to strike the provision in the bill that creates a cause of action against the Federal Government. What does that cause of action do? That provision waives sovereign immunity, provides for automatic damages, and provides for an award of attorney's fees.
This provision is, obviously, a gift to the trial lawyers lobby, which American taxpayers should not have to pay for. And I do not think class action lawsuits against the government will help with cyber security.
Another amendment of mine would have removed industry-specific carve-outs from the bill. This is another example of how backroom deal making takes place so as to get support and build support for a bill. We saw this happen with the health care reform bill. You know the famous ``Cornhusker Kickback'' that was agreed to in order to pass ObamaCare, and this process reminds me of that.
Here, to get support from companies in the information technology industry, the bill clearly states those companies cannot be identified as critical cyber infrastructure. So to build support for this bill--but without people knowing what is in the bill--the authors carved out these companies from having to comply with the bill.
For example, under this carve-out, say an information technology company builds a router that has a flaw that is exploited by hackers. That router is purchased by every sector of the critical infrastructure, including power, water, and probably a lot of others that I ought to be able to name.
If that router flaw is exploited, and if that is attacked, the companies that bought the router are held responsible. However, the company that made the faulty router is not.
It is obvious how absurd this is. It is obvious how much of a major giveaway to a key industry it is, just to give the appearance of private sector support. This is not how we should handle cyber security, and I have an amendment to strike this provision. We should openly debate this issue and discuss whether this is the right course of action to give a carve-out to a specific segment of industry.
Again, the carve-out was a deal cut with one purpose: to limit opposition to the bill. Well, that was not good policy in 2009 on the ``Cornhusker Kickback'' in the health care reform debate, and we should learn from that lesson that it is, obviously, not good policy in 2012.
I also know that Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had an amendment that the Congressional Budget Office issued a score on the cost of the bill before it could take effect.
Why were the supporters of the bill opposed to doing that? Do they believe they have a right to spend millions or billions of taxpayers' dollars at will without making the amount public? Are the supporters of the bill really prepared to vote for this bill without revealing how much it will cost?
But I will not get a chance to debate my amendments or Senator Johnson's amendment before the cloture vote because that is how the majority leader runs the U.S. Senate.
There are serious questions about this bill. It needs to be amended. We need to discuss changes. Unfortunately, it does not look as though that is going to happen.
I know some will, again, say that this has been a long process. The only thing true about that statement is that the issue and problem has been discussed for a long time--but not discussed for a long time on this bill.
If we are serious about addressing this problem, then let's deal with it appropriately. Rushing something through that will impact the country in such a massive way is not the way the most deliberative body in the world, the U.S. Senate, should do its business. It is not good for the country, and it is, obviously, not good for the reputation of the U.S. Senate.
I yield the floor.
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