THE ECONOMY -- (Senate - December 10, 2010

)
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Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, let me begin by thanking my friend from Virginia for doing
what is very imortant. ! think the essen"e of what he is saying is that today there are millions of
#ederal emloyees, eole in the Armed #or"es, who are doing the very best they "an. !n many
instan"es, they are doing a great $ob to rote"t o%r "o%ntry, to kee it safe. And very often, to be
honest with yo%, these folks get d%med on. So it is imortant that eole s%"h as Senator
Warner "ome here and oint o%t individ%als who are doing a great $ob, eole of whom we are
very ro%d. So ! thank Senator Warner for that.
Mr. President, as ! think everyone knows, President &bama and the Re%bli"an leadershi
have rea"hed an agreement on a very signifi"ant ta' bill. !n my view, the agreement they rea"hed
is a bad deal for the Ameri"an eole. ! think we "an do better.
! am here today to take a strong stand against this bill, and ! intend to tell my "olleag%es and
the Nation e'a"tly why ! am in oosition to this bill. (o% "an "all what ! am doing today
whatever yo% want. (o% "an "all it a filib%ster. (o% "an "all it a very long see"h. ! am not here
to set any great re"ords or to make a se"ta"le) ! am simly here today to take as long as ! "an to
e'lain to the Ameri"an eole the fa"t that we have to do a lot better than this agreement
rovides.
*et me en%merate some of the reasons ! am oosed to this agreement.
#irst, as everybody knows, this Nation has a re"ordbreaking +,-.. trillion national debt at the
same time as the middle "lass is "ollasing and overty is in"reasing. And ! think it is imortant
to say a word//be"a%se ! am not ne"essarily s%re a lot of Ameri"ans know this//abo%t how we
got to where we are today in terms of the national debt.
! know there are some eole who think this all began the day President &bama took offi"e.
0ell, that is not 1%ite the "ase. 0hen President 2linton left offi"e, this "o%ntry was r%nning, in
fa"t, a very signifi"ant s%rl%s, and the ro$e"tions were that we were going to "ontin%e to r%n a
s%rl%s. D%ring the . years of President 3%sh4s administration, for a n%mber of reasons//the
rimary reasons being the war in !ra1, the war in Afghanistan, h%ge ta' breaks for the wealthiest
eole in this "o%ntry, a Medi"are Part D res"rition dr%g rogram, the 0all Street bailo%t,
among other things, all of whi"h were not aid for//we saw an almost do%bling of the national
debt. Sin"e President &bama has been in offi"e, we have assed a stim%l%s a"kage whi"h has
also added to the defi"it and national debt.
3%t here we are today with a +,-.. trillion national debt, a +,.5 trillion defi"it, and almost all
Ameri"ans are in agreement that this is a very serio%s iss%e. So the first oint ! wo%ld make is
that it seems to me to be %n"ons"ionable//%n"ons"ionable//for my "onservative friends and for
everybody else in this "o%ntry to be driving % this already too high national debt by giving ta'
breaks to millionaires and billionaires who don4t need it, and in a n%mber of "ases they don4t even
want it.
6ere is one of the interesting ironies. 7here are lists of many very wealthy eole who have
"ome forward and said8 S%re, ! want a ta' break. Everybody wants a ta' break. 3%t yo% know
what, there are other riorities in this "o%ntry, and ! don4t need it. 7wo of the wealthiest eole in
the world//and these are billionaires//3ill 9ates of Mi"rosoft and 0arren 3%ffett of 3erkshire,
say8 !t is abs%rd. 0e don4t need a ta' break.
All over the "o%ntry, yo% hear a lot of folks who have a lot of money saying8 Don4t drive % the
defi"it and for"e o%r kids to ay higher ta'es to ay off the national debt in order to give ta'
breaks to the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry.
0e have been told not to worry too m%"h be"a%se the e'tension of these ta' breaks for the
wealthy will only last : years//not to worry. Maybe that is the "ase. 3%t given the oliti"al reality
! have seen in 0ashington, my g%ess is that : years from now these ta' breaks for the wealthiest
eole in this "o%ntry will be e'tended again. 0hat haens aro%nd here is that the arg%ment
will be made that if yo% end these ta' breaks yo% are raising ta'es. 7hat is what we are hearing
right now. ! see no reason why, in the middle of a Presidential ele"tion, those arg%ments will not
be made again and ! see no reason not to believe that those ta' breaks will be e'tended again.
;7he A27!N9 PRES!DEN7 ro temore ass%med the "hair.<
Mr. SANDERS. 2learly, we have a n%mber of Re%bli"ans who want to make that e'tension
ermanent. 0hether it will ever be made ermanent ! don4t know. 3%t the oint is, when yo%
hear folks say it is only a :/year e'tension, ! s%ggest yo% take that with a grain of salt.
*et me say, if in fa"t we do what the Re%bli"ans have wanted to do right now as we enter this
debate//they wanted a ,=/year e'tension//that wo%ld add +>== billion to o%r national debt. ! have
fo%r kids and ! have si' grand"hildren. None of them has a whole lot of money. ! think it is
grossly %nfair to ask my kids and grand"hildren and the "hildren all over this "o%ntry to be
aying higher ta'es in order to rovide ta' breaks for billionaires be"a%se we have driven % the
national debt. 7hat is lain wrong. ! think the vast ma$ority of the Ameri"an eole, whether they
are rogressives like myself or whether they are "onservatives, er"eive that "on"et of giving
ta' breaks to billionaires when we have s%"h a high national debt makes no sense at all.
#%rthermore, it is imortant to oint o%t that e'tending in"ome ta' breaks to the to : er"ent
is not the only %nfair ta' roosal in this agreement. 7his agreement between the President and
the Re%bli"an leadershi also "alls for a "ontin%ation of the 3%sh era ,?/er"ent ta' rate on
"aital gains and dividends, meaning that those eole who make their living off their
investments will "ontin%e to ay a s%bstantially lower ta' rate than firemen, tea"hers, n%rses,
"arenters, and virt%ally all the other working eole of this "o%ntry. ! do not think that is fair.
7hat is wrong. !f this agreement were to be assed, we wo%ld be "ontin%ing that %nfair
arrangement.
&n to of all that, this agreement in"l%des a horrendo%s roosal regarding the estate ta'. 7hat
is a 7eddy Roosevelt initiative. 7eddy Roosevelt was talking abo%t this in the early years of the
:=th "ent%ry. !t was ena"ted in ,@,A and it was ena"ted for a "o%le of reasons. 7eddy Roosevelt
and the eole of that era tho%ght it was wrong that a handf%l of eole "o%ld have a h%ge
"on"entration of wealth and then give that wealth, transmit that wealth to their "hildren. 6e did
not think that was right.
#%rthermore, it was a so%r"e, a rogressive and fair so%r"e, of reven%e. Bnder the agreement
str%"k between the Re%bli"an leadershi and the President, the estate ta' rate, whi"h was ??
er"ent %nder President 2linton//and let4s all remember, we had roblems with the e"onomy
%nder President 2linton b%t very few will deny that d%ring those years we were "reating a he"k
of a lot more $obs than we did %nder President 3%sh. 7hat is the fa"t//over := million $obs %nder
President 2linton. 0e lost A==,=== rivate se"tor $obs %nder President 3%sh. D%ring the 2linton
era, the ta' rate on the estate ta' was ?? er"ent. 0hat this arrangement wo%ld do is lower that
ta' rate to -? er"ent, with an e'emtion on the first +? million of an individ%al4s estate and +,=
million for "o%les.
6ere is the imortant oint ! think many eole do not know. ! have to "onfess my Re%bli"an
friends and their ollsters and their lang%age eole have done a very good $ob. 7his is the so/
"alled death ta'. ! think all over Ameri"a eole say this is terrible. ! have +?=,=== in the bank
and ! want to leave that to my kids and the 9overnment is going to take ?? er"ent of that, -?
er"ent of that. 0hat an o%trage.
*et %s be very "lear8 7his ta' alies only//only//to the to three/tenths of , er"ent of
Ameri"an families) @@.> er"ent of Ameri"an families will not ay one ni"kel in an estate ta'.
7his is not a ta' on the ri"h, this is a ta' on the very, very, very ri"h.
!f my Re%bli"an friends had been s%""essf%l in doing what they want to do, whi"h is eliminate
this estate ta' "omletely, it wo%ld have "ost o%r 7reas%ry//raised the national debt by +, trillion
over a ,=/year eriod. #amilies s%"h as the 0alton family, of 0al/Mart fame, wo%ld have
re"eived, $%st this one family, abo%t a +-= billion ta' break.
! find it hard to believe when we are talking abo%t massive "%ts in rograms for working
families, when we have this h%ge national debt, that anybody wo%ld be agreeing to lowering the
estate ta' rate to -? er"ent. 7hat is what this agreement does and ! think that is a very bad idea.
&n"e again, while the agreement on the estate ta' is for : years//on"e again, there is very little
do%bt in my mind that the Re%bli"ans will "ontin%e to %sh for lower and lower estate ta' rates
be"a%se that is what they want. ! think Senator Kyl has been retty "lear abo%t this. 7hey want to
ermanently reeal that ta'. 7hat is +, trillion in ta' breaks to the to three/tenths of , er"ent. !
think we are down a bad ath there and that is another reason why this agreement does not make
a whole lot of sense.
7hird//and this is a very imortant oint that ! think has not yet gotten the attention it
deserves//this agreement "ontains a ayroll ta' holiday whi"h wo%ld "%t +,:= billion from
So"ial Se"%rity ayroll ta'es for workers. 7here are a lot of folks o%t there who say8 7his is
retty good. ! am a worker, my "ontrib%tion will go from A.: er"ent today down to 5.: er"ent.
! will have more money in my ay"he"k. !t is a good idea.
*et4s take a dee breath and let4s think abo%t it for a se"ond and %nderstand what this whole
thing is abo%t. 7his ayroll ta' holiday "on"et, as ! %nderstand it, originally started with
"onservative Re%bli"ans. ! know the Vi"e President re"ently made the oint this was originally
a Re%bli"an idea. 0hy did the Re%bli"ans "ome % with this ideaC 7hese are e'a"tly the same
eole who do not believe in So"ial Se"%rity. 7hese are the same eole who either want to
make signifi"ant "%ts in So"ial Se"%rity or else they want to rivatiDe So"ial Se"%rity entirely.
6ere is the oint8 7hey %nderstand that if we divert f%nding that is s%osed to go into the So"ial
Se"%rity tr%st f%nd, whi"h is what this ayroll ta' holiday does, this is money that goes into the
So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd that is now being diverted, "%t ba"k, in order to rovide finan"ial
s%ort for workers//b%t that is a lot of money not going into the tr%st f%nd.
0hat the President and others are saying is not to worry be"a%se that money will be "overed by
the general f%nd. 7hat is a very bad and dangero%s re"edent. B %ntil now, what So"ial Se"%rity
has been abo%t is ,== er"ent f%nding from ayroll "ontrib%tions, not from the general ta' base.
&n"e again, this is a ,/year rogram. 7he loss of reven%e going into So"ial Se"%rity "an be
"overed by the general f%nd. 3%t we have a +,- trillion national debt. 6ow m%"h longer will the
general f%nd %t money into So"ial Se"%rityC !s it a good idea for the general f%nd to be doing
thatC
! wo%ld arg%e this is not a good idea. 7his is a very dangero%s ste forward for those of %s who
believe in So"ial Se"%rity. 3%t this is not $%st Bernie Sanders saying this. &ne of the more
effe"tive and ! think imortant senior gro%s in Ameri"a is "alled the National 2ommittee to
Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are. ! don4t know e'a"tly how many b%t they have many
members all over this "o%ntry. ! know they are a"tive in the State of Vermont. ! want to read to
yo% from a ress release they sent o%t the other day. 7his is the headline on it, from the National
2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are8 EE2%tting 2ontrib%tions to So"ial Se"%rity
Signals the 3eginning of the End. Payroll 7a' 6oliday !s Anything 3%t.44
7his is what they say. 7his "omes from 3arbara Fennelly. 3arbara "ame from the 6o%se of
Reresentatives. ! have known her for years. She is now the resident and 2E& of the National
2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are, one of the strong senior gro%s in the
"o%ntry.
Even tho%gh So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%ted nothing to the "%rrent e"onomi" "risis, it has been
bartered in a deal that rovides defi"it/b%sting ta' "%ts for the wealthy. Diverting +,:= billion in
So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%tions for a so/"alled EEta' holiday44 may so%nd like a good deal for
workers now, b%t it4s bad b%siness for the rogram that a ma$ority of middle/"lass seniors will
rely %on in the f%t%re.
7hat is what the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are says abo%t that
agreement and ! agree with them. #or all of %s who %nderstand that So"ial Se"%rity is life and
death for tens of millions of Ameri"ans today and will be vitally imortant for working eole as
they rea"h retirement age, it is imortant that we %nderstand that So"ial Se"%rity has done a great
$ob. A few min%tes ago the Presiding &ffi"er was on the floor talking abo%t the strong work that
o%r #ederal emloyees do, and he is absol%tely right. Sometimes we also take for granted that
So"ial Se"%rity has been an enormo%s s%""ess. !t has done e'a"tly what those eole who
"reated it have wanted it to do//nothing more, nothing less. !t has s%""eeded. !t has taken
millions of seniors o%t of overty and given them an element of se"%rity. !t has also heled
eole with disabilities maintain their dignity. 0idows and orhans are also getting hel.
#or >? years it has worked well. !t has a +:.A trillion s%rl%s today and it "an ay o%t benefits
for the ne't :@ years. !t is strong. 0e want to make it stronger. 7his ayroll ta' holiday ! am
afraid is a ste very m%"h in the wrong dire"tion and that is one of the imortant reasons why
this agreement between the President and the Re%bli"ans sho%ld be defeated.
!n"l%ded in the agreement are a n%mber of b%siness ta' "%ts. ! am not going to be here to say
that some of them may not work. Some of them may work. Some will work better than others.
7here is a whole list of them. 3%t this is what ! will say. E"onomists on both ends of the oliti"al
se"tr%m believe that if we are serio%s abo%t addressing the horrendo%s e"onomi" "risis we are
in now, @.. er"ent %nemloyment, there are far more effe"tive ways of "reating the $obs we
have to "reate than those ta' roosals. 0ith "ororate Ameri"a already sitting on "lose to +:
trillion "ash on hand, it is not that o%r friends in "ororate Ameri"a don4t have any money, we
have to hel them. 7hey have +: trillion "ash on hand. 7he roblem is not in my view that
"ororate ta'es are too high) it is that the middle "lass simly doesn4t have the money to %r"hase
the goods and rod%"ts that make o%r e"onomy go and "reate $obs.
! think if o%r goal is to "reate the millions and millions of $obs we need, and if o%r goal is to
make o%r "o%ntry stronger internationally in a very to%gh global e"onomy, ! wo%ld m%"h refer,
and ! think most e"onomists wo%ld agree with me that a better way to do that, to "reate the
millions of $obs we have to "reate, is to invest heavily in o%r infrastr%"t%re.
7he tr%th is//and ! don4t think anyone dis%tes this, the infrastr%"t%re in the Bnited States is
"r%mbling, and ! will go into more detail abo%t that later.
! have some very good information on it. 3%t yo% do not have to be a "ivil engineer to know
that. All yo% have to do is get in yo%r "ar today and drive somela"e in my State and all over this
"o%ntry. 0hat yo% are going to see are roads that are in disreair. (o% are going to see bridges
that, in some "ases, have a"t%ally been sh%t down. (o% are going to see water systems//!
remember ! was in R%tland, V7, the se"ond or third largest "ity in the State of Vermont, and the
mayor showed me a ie"e of ie, an old ie"e of ie.
6e said8 (o% know, the engineer who heled develo this water system and lay this ie, after
he did this work for R%tland, he went off to fight in the war.
! knew there was a "at"h line "oming. ! said8 0hat war was itC
6e said8 !t was the 2ivil 0ar.
So yo% are talking abo%t water ie being in R%tland, V7//and this is tr%e all over the Bnited
States//laid in the 2ivil 0ar. 7he res%lt is, we lose an enormo%s amo%nt of "lean water every day
thro%gh leaks and water ies b%rsting all over the Bnited States of Ameri"a.
0ell, we "an %t eole to work imroving o%r water systems, o%r wastewater lants. !t is a
very e'ensive roosition to develo a good wastewater lant. ! was a mayor, yo% were a
9overnor, Mr. President. !t is an e'ensive roosition for roads, bridges. #%rthermore, ! do not
have to tell anybody here, o%r rail system, whi"h %sed to be the greatest rail system in the world,
is now falling way behind every other ma$or "o%ntry on Earth.
As a res%lt of the stim%l%s a"kage, we did a whole lot of very good things in the State of
Vermont. &ne of the things we were able to do was %se +?= million of #ederal f%nds and rivate
money to make ma$or reair on one of o%r imortant railways in the State.
3%t we remain far behind most other "o%ntries aro%nd the ind%strialiDed world. 2hina is
e'loding in terms of the n%mber of high/seed rail lines they have. 0e have to do better. &%r
airorts need work. &%r air "ontrollers need to be %dated in terms of the te"hnology they have
and %se to make o%r flights safe.
7he oint is, what most e"onomists wo%ld tell yo% is when yo% invest in infrastr%"t%re, yo% get
a bigger bang for the b%"k. (o% "reate more $obs for yo%r investment than, in most instan"es,
giving a variety of ta' breaks to the "ororate world.
Se"ond of all, and not %nimortantly, when yo% invest in infrastr%"t%re, yo% are imroving the
f%t%re of this "o%ntry. (o% are making %s more rod%"tive. !t is not $%st "reating $obs, it is
"reating $obs for very se"ifi" %roses, whi"h makes o%r Nation more rod%"tive and effi"ient.
7hirdly, let me tell yo% something. As a former mayor, infrastr%"t%re does not get better if yo%
ignore it. (o% "an t%rn yo%r ba"k, if yo% are a mayor or 9overnor, on the roads and the highways
be"a%se yo% do not have the money to fi' them today, b%t they are not going to get better ne't
year. At some oint, they are going to have to be reaired and fi'ed. 0e may as well do that
right now.
So ! believe the money, the very s%bstantial s%ms of money in this agreement between the
President and the Re%bli"ans, whi"h goes into ta' breaks for "ororate Ameri"a, "o%ld be
effe"tively sent on infrastr%"t%re.
7he fifth oint ! want to make in oosition to this agreement and what we have heard from
the President and others is that this is a "omromise. (o% "annot get everything yo% want. 0ell,
yo% "annot get everything yo% want aro%nd here is tr%e, b%t one of the e'amles of "omromise
is an e'tension of %nemloyment benefits for ,- months.
0ell, let me be very "lear. !n the midst of a serio%s and ma$or re"ession, at a time when
millions of o%r fellow Ameri"ans are not only o%t of work thro%gh no fa%lt of their own, b%t they
have been o%t of work for a very long time, it wo%ld be, in my view, immoral and wrong to t%rn
o%r ba"ks on those workers. 7heir %nemloyment benefits are going to be r%nning o%t soon. !t is
absol%tely imerative that we e'tend those %nemloyment benefits for the : million workers who
wo%ld lose them.
3%t here is the oint ! want to make. Some eole say this is a "omromise. 0ell, the
Re%bli"ans gave on %nemloyment) the President gave on e'tending ta' breaks for the ri"h, et
"etera. 3%t here is the oint. ! do not believe, honestly, that the Re%bli"an s%ort now for
e'tending %nemloyment benefits "onstit%tes m%"h of a "omromise be"a%se the tr%th is, for the
ast 5= years, %nder both Demo"rati" and Re%bli"an administrations, %nder the leadershi in the
Senate and the 6o%se of Demo"rats or Re%bli"ans, it has been biartisan oli"y that whenever
the %nemloyment rate has been above >.: er"ent, %nemloyment ins%ran"e has always been
e'tended. So what we have had is longstanding, biartisan oli"y. 7hat is what we have always
done. 7hat is what we sho%ld be doing in the f%t%re. ! do not regard Re%bli"ans now s%orting
what their arty has always s%orted, e'tending %nemloyment benefits when %nemloyment
be"omes very high//! do not see that as a "omromise. ! see that as what has been going on in
this "o%ntry and in the Senate for fo%r de"ades.
! have talked abo%t the negative ase"ts of this roosal. 3%t ! am going to be the first to admit
that, of "o%rse, there are ositive and good agreements in this. And what are theyC 0hat are
some of the ositive ase"ts of this agreementC *et me $%st ti"k them off.
No. ,, ! believe very strongly, and ! know the President does, it is absol%tely imerative that
we e'tend middle/"lass ta' "%ts for @. er"ent of the Ameri"an eole. ! do not think there has
been any debate abo%t that.
0hen median family in"ome has gone down by over +:,=== d%ring the 3%sh years, when
millions of o%r eole today are working longer ho%rs for low wages, when eole "annot afford
to send their kids to "ollege or to take "are of "hild"are, ! think it makes absol%te sense. ! do not
think anyone will arg%e it is absol%tely imerative that we e'tend middle/"lass ta' "%ts. 7hat is
what this rovision does. 7hat is the right thing.
#%rthermore, in this agreement we have an e'tension of the earned/in"ome ta' "redit for
working Ameri"ans, and the "hild and "ollege ta' "redit are also in there. Every one of these
agreements is very imortant. 7hese rograms will kee millions of Ameri"ans from sliing o%t
of the middle "lass and into overty. 7hey will allow millions of Ameri"ans to send their kids to
"ollege.
So ! am not here to say there is not anything of val%e in this agreement between the President
and the Re%bli"ans. 7here are, and we have to fight to make s%re all of those rograms remain
in the final a"kage when it is assed//when the final a"kage is assed. 3%t when we look at the
overall agreement, we m%st %t it in a broader "onte't) that is, what will the assage of this
legislation mean for the f%t%re of o%r "o%ntryC
!n that area, if yo% look at it in that "onte't, ! think the eviden"e is retty strong it is not $%st a
good agreement and not something that sho%ld be assed. 7he assage of this agreement wo%ld
mean we wo%ld "ontin%e the 3%sh oli"y of tri"kle/down e"onomi"s for at least : more years.
7hat is not a good thing to do be"a%se, ! think, as most Ameri"ans know, that hilosohy, that
e"onomi" aroa"h, simly did not work. 7he eviden"e is 1%ite overwhelming. ! do not think
there is m%"h debate, when median family in"ome d%ring 3%sh4s . years goes down by +:,:==,
when we end % losing over A==,=== rivate se"tor $obs, and all of the $ob growth was in the
#ederal level, ! do not see how anybody wo%ld want to "ontin%e that hilosohy. 3%t that, in
essen"e, is what will haen if this agreement is assed.
Now, ! want to make another oint abo%t what haens if//if, and ! will do my best to revent
this from haening//b%t what wo%ld haen if this agreement wo%ld assC Does anybody
serio%sly believe o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es wo%ld then say8 &F, well, we have an e'tension of
ta' breaks for the very ri"hest eole. 0e have lowered the ta' rate on the estate ta'. 7hose are
good vi"tories for millionaires and billionaires. 0e are going to go home now. 0e are not going
to "ontin%e the fight.
! do not think so. 0e are already hearing so%nds abo%t where o%r Re%bli"an friends want to
go. 7he President %t together what ! tho%ght was a very oor defi"it red%"tion "ommission. !
tho%ght the folks on it were not refle"tive of the Ameri"an eole. ! tho%ght there was very m%"h
a big b%siness, "ororate artiality there.
7he initiatives that "ame o%t of that "ommission//whi"h, fort%nately, did not get the ,5 votes
they needed//s%ggest to me that those of %s who are "on"erned abo%t rote"ting the needs of the
middle "lass and working families are going to have to %sh ba"k retty hard for what is "oming
down the ike.
! think what we will be seeing is//if this roosal negotiated between the President and the
Re%bli"ans is assed, what yo% will be seeing within a few months are folks "oming on the
floor of the Senate, and this is what they will say8 (o% know what. 7he defi"it is high. 7he
national debt is too high. And, yes//oh, yes//we drove the national debt % by giving ta' breaks
to millionaires. 7hat is the way it goes. 3%t we are going to have to deal with o%r national debt.
7he Re%bli"ans will tell yo%8 &h, we have a great lan to deal with it. 0e are giving ta'
breaks to millionaires. 3%t now what we are going to have to do is start making dee "%ts in
So"ial Se"%rity, and that defi"it red%"tion "ommission started aving the way for that, very
s%bstantial "%ts in So"ial Se"%rity.
Maybe we will have to raise the retirement age in So"ial Se"%rity to A@ or >=. Maybe we will
have to make "%ts in Medi"are. Maybe we will have to make "%ts in Medi"aid. ! think we are
beginning to see, in the State of AriDona now, what goes on when yo% make dee "%ts in
Medi"aid.
!n AriDona right now there are eole who are in line who need translants, who will die if
they do not get translants, as a res%lt of legislation they assed there. 7hey are saying to eole,
yo%ng eole8 Sorry, we "annot afford to give yo% a translant, and yo% are going to have to die.
0ell, is that what we are looking forward to saying all over Ameri"aC ! "ertainly will do
everything ! "an to revent that.
0e are "ertainly going to see a ta' on environmental rote"tion, on ed%"ation. Some of %s
believe if this "o%ntry is going to roser and s%""eed in the global e"onomy, we have to have
the best ed%"ational system in the world from "hild"are thro%gh "ollege.
Right now, it is e'tremely diffi"%lt for middle/"lass families to send their kids to "ollege. Does
anyone have any do%bt whatsoever that o%r Re%bli"an friends are not going to "ome ba"k here
and say8 &h, we "annot afford to raise Pell 9rants as we have in re"ent years. 0e "annot afford
to s%ort working families who have their kids in "hild"are. 2%t. 2%t. 2%t.
7hat is insanity. ! am being honest abo%t it. So ! wo%ld s%ggest their arg%ment is that we have a
high defi"it and a high national debt) that if we ass this agreement and the national debt goes
higher, it only gives them more imet%s to go forward to "%t rograms that benefit working
families and the middle "lass.
*et me also say there is no do%bt in my mind what many//not all b%t many//of my Re%bli"an
"olleag%es want to do) that is, they want to move this "o%ntry ba"k into the ,@:=s when
essentially we had an e"onomi" and oliti"al system whi"h was "ontrolled by big money
interests) where working eole and the middle "lass had no rograms to s%stain them when
things got bad, when they got old, and when they got si"k) when labor %nions were very hard to
"ome by be"a%se of antiworker legislation. 7hat is what they want. 7hey do not believe in things
like the Environmental Prote"tion Agen"y. 7hey do not believe in things like So"ial Se"%rity,
Medi"are, Medi"aid, #ederal aid to ed%"ation. 7hat is the fight we will be waging.
! think to s%rrender on this iss%e is to simly say we are going to be waging fight after fight,
starting within a "o%le of months.
President &bama has said he fo%ght as hard as he "o%ld against the Re%bli"an ta' breaks for
the wealthy and for an e'tension in %nemloyment. 0ell, maybe. 3%t the reality is that fight
"annot simly be waged inside the 3eltway. &%r $ob is to aeal to the vast ma$ority of the
Ameri"an eole to stand % and to say8 0ait a min%te. ! do not want to see o%r national debt
e'lode. ! do not want to see my kids and grand"hildren aying higher ta'es in order to give ta'
breaks to millionaires and billionaires.
7he vast ma$ority of the Ameri"an eole do not s%ort that agreement in terms of giving ta'
breaks to the very ri"h. &%r $ob is to rally those eole. ! wo%ld like very m%"h to see the
Ameri"an eole saying to o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es and some Demo"rati" "olleag%es8 E'"%se
me. Don4t for"e my kids to have a lower standard of living in order to give ta' breaks to the
ri"hest eole.
0hat the President and all of %s sho%ld be doing is going o%t and saying to those eole8 2all
the Members of the Senate, "all the Members of the 6o%se and say8 E'"%se me. 6ow abo%t
reresenting the middle "lass and working families, for a "hange, rather than the wealthiest
eole. 7hat is what demo"ra"y is abo%t.
7his fight is not going to be won inside the beltway in a Senate debate. !t is going to be won
when the Ameri"an eole stand and say8 0ait a se"ond. 0e "annot "ontin%e to give ta' breaks
to eole who are doing henomenally well right now. 0e "annot give ta' breaks to the ri"h
when we already have the most %ne1%al distrib%tion of in"ome of any ma$or "o%ntry on Earth.
7he to , er"ent earns :- er"ent of all in"ome in Ameri"a, more than the bottom ?= er"ent.
7hey don4t need more ta' breaks to be aid for by o%r kids and grand"hildren.
7he vast ma$ority of eole are behind %s on this iss%e, b%t they have to make their voi"es
heard to their Senators, to their 2ongressmen. 0hen they do, ! believe we "an "ome forward
with an agreement whi"h rote"ts the middle/"lass and working families and is not a boondoggle
for the wealthiest eole.
!t is imortant to %t the agreement the President str%"k with Re%bli"ans in a broader "onte't.
0e "an4t $%st look at the agreement %nto itself. 0e have to look at it within the "onte't of what is
going on in the "o%ntry today, both e"onomi"ally and oliti"ally. ! think ! seak for millions of
Ameri"ans. 7here is a war going on in this "o%ntry. ! am not referring to the war in !ra1 or the
war in Afghanistan. ! am talking abo%t a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most
owerf%l eole against working families, against the disaearing and shrinking middle "lass of
o%r "o%ntry. 7he billionaires of Ameri"a are on the warath. 7hey want more and more and
more. 7hat has everything to do with this agreement rea"hed between Re%bli"ans and the
President.
!n :==>, the to , er"ent of all in"ome earners made :-.? er"ent of all in"ome. *et me reeat
that8 7he to , er"ent earned over :- er"ent of all in"ome) that is, more than the bottom ?=
er"ent. &ne er"ent here) fifty er"ent here. 3%t for the very wealthy, that is aarently not
eno%gh. 7he er"entage of in"ome going to the to , er"ent nearly triled sin"e the ,@>=s. All
over this "o%ntry eole are angry, fr%strated. !t is tr%e in Vermont. ! am s%re it is tr%e in
Virginia. !t is tr%e all over Ameri"a. 3%t one of the reasons eole are angry and fr%strated is
they are working in"redibly hard. !n Vermont, ! "an tell my "olleag%es, there are eole who
don4t work one $ob, two $obs) there are eole working three $obs and fo%r $obs, trying to "obble
together an in"ome in order to s%ort their families. ! s%se"t that goes on all a"ross the
"o%ntry. 0hile eole are working harder and harder, in many "ases their in"ome is going down.
7he fa"t is, .= er"ent of all new in"ome earned from ,@.= to :==? has gone to the to , er"ent.
*et me reeat that be"a%se that is an imortant fa"t. !t e'lains why the Ameri"an eole are
feeling as angry as they are. 7hey are working hard, b%t they are not going anyla"e. !n some
"ases, in many "ases, their standard of living is a"t%ally going down. Eighty er"ent of all
in"ome in re"ent years has gone to the to , er"ent. 7he ri"her eole be"ome m%"h ri"her, the
middle "lass shrinks. Millions of Ameri"ans fall o%t of the middle "lass and into overty.
7hat is not aarently eno%gh for o%r friends at the to who have a religio%s fero"ity in terms
of greed. 7hey need more, more. !t is similar to an addi"tion. #ifty million is not eno%gh. 7hey
need +,== million. &ne h%ndred million is not eno%gh) they need , billion. &ne billion is not
eno%gh. ! am not 1%ite s%re how m%"h they need. 0hen will it stoC
7oday, in terms of wealth as oosed to in"ome, the to , er"ent now owns more wealth than
the bottom @= er"ent. 0hen we went to s"hool, we %sed to read in the te'tbooks abo%t *atin
Ameri"a, and they %sed to refer to some of the "o%ntries there as EEbanana re%bli"s,44 "o%ntries
in whi"h a handf%l of families "ontrolled the e"onomi" and oliti"al life of the nation. ! don4t
wish to %set the Ameri"an eole, b%t we are not all that far away from that reality today. 7he
to , er"ent has seen a triling of the er"entage of in"ome they earn. Sin"e the ,@>=s, the to ,
er"ent owning :- er"ent of all in"ome, more than the bottom ?= er"ent. 7he to , er"ent
now owns more wealth than the bottom @= er"ent. 7hat is not the fo%ndation of a demo"rati"
so"iety. 7hat is the fo%ndation for an oligar"hi" so"iety. 7he ri"h get ri"her. 7he middle "lass
shrinks. Poverty in"reases. Aarently, 9od is not good eno%gh yet for some of the ri"hest
eole.
! say EEsome of the ri"hest44 be"a%se there are a lot of folks with a lot of money who do love this
"o%ntry, they are not into greed, b%t there are some who are. More, more more, that is what they
need.
#or e'amle//this galls me and galls many of the eole in this "o%ntry//the horrendo%s
re"ession we are in right now, where millions and millions of eole have lost their $obs, their
savings, their homes, this re"ession was "a%sed by the greed and re"klessness and illegal
behavior on 0all Street. 7hese g%ys, thro%gh their greed, "reated the most severe e"onomi"
re"ession sin"e the 9reat Deression. 7he Ameri"an eole bailed them o%t. Now, : years after
the bailo%t, they are giving themselves more "omensation than they ever have. 7hey are saying
to the Ameri"an eole8 Sorry we "a%sed this re"ession be"a%se of o%r greed. Sorry yo% are
%nemloyed. Sorry yo% lost yo%r ho%se. 3%t that is not all that imortant. 0hat is imortant is
that !, on 0all Street, "ontin%e to get millions of dollars in "omensation and in bon%ses, that !
have big arties. 6ow "an ! get by on one ho%seC ! need ? ho%ses, ,= ho%ses. ! need three $et
lanes to take me all over the world. Sorry. 0e have the money. 0e have the ower. 0e have
the lobbyists here on 0all Street. 7o%gh l%"k. 7hat is the world, get %sed to it.
7he ri"h get ri"her. 7he middle "lass shrinks. Not eno%gh, not eno%gh. 7he very ri"h seem to
want more and more and more, and they are reared to dismantle the e'isting oliti"al and
so"ial order in order to get it. So we have the e"onomi"s and distrib%tion of in"ome and wealth
as one thing, b%t then we m%st dis"%ss oliti"s.
0hat haened last year, as ! think most Ameri"ans know, is the S%reme 2o%rt made a very
strange de"ision. 7he S%reme 2o%rt de"ided that "ororations are eole and they have the
right of free see"h and the right witho%t dis"los%re//all of this is thro%gh the 2itiDens Bnited
S%reme 2o%rt de"ision//to %t as m%"h money as they want into "amaigns all over the
"o%ntry. !n this last "amaign, that is what we saw8 3illionaires, in se"ret, o%ring money into
"amaigns all over the "o%ntry. Does that so%nd like demo"ra"y to anybody in Ameri"a) that we
have a handf%l of billionaires robably dividing % the "o%ntryC ! will %t this amo%nt in
Virginia, 2alifornia, wherever.
7hat is what they were able to do. 7he ri"h get ri"her, and they don4t sit on this money. 0hat
they then do is %se it to ele"t eole who s%ort them and to %nele"t eole who oose their
agenda and they %se their oliti"al ower to get legislation assed whi"h makes the wealthy even
wealthier.
&ne of the manifestations of that is, in fa"t, the agreement rea"hed between the President and
the Re%bli"an leadershi. 7he wealthy "ontrib%te h%ge s%ms of money into "amaigns. 7he
wealthy have all kinds of lobbyists aro%nd here thro%gh "ororate Ameri"a. 0hat they are going
to get o%t of this agreement are h%ge ta' breaks that benefit themselves. 7hat is not what we
sho%ld be s%orting.
0e sho%ld %nderstand this agreement is $%st the beginning of an assa%lt on legislation and
rograms that have benefited the Ameri"an eole for >= or .= years. Mark my words, there will
be an intensive effort to rivatiDe So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are and Medi"aid. #%rthermore, it is
art of the Re%bli"an agenda. 7hey want to e'and//and it is not only Re%bli"ans here, some
Demo"rats as well//o%r disastro%s trade oli"ies so large "omanies "an "ontin%e their efforts to
o%tso%r"e Ameri"an $obs to 2hina and other low/wage "o%ntries. Any ob$e"tive analysis of o%r
trade oli"ies has shown it has been a grotes1%e fail%re for ordinary Ameri"ans. !t is hard to
"al"%late e'a"tly, b%t ! think it is fair to say we have lost millions of de"ent/aying $obs. D%ring
the 3%sh years alone, some 5.,=== fa"tories sh%t down. 0e went from ,@ million man%fa"t%ring
$obs to ,: million man%fa"t%ring $obs. 6istori"ally, in this "o%ntry, man%fa"t%ring $obs were the
ba"kbone of the working "lass. 7hat is how eole made it into the middle "lass. 7hat is how
they had de"ent health "are benefits and ensions. Every day we are seeing those $obs disaear
be"a%se "ororate Ameri"a wo%ld refer to do b%siness in 2hina or other low/wage "o%ntries.
! ret%rned from a tri to Vietnam last year, a bea%tif%l "o%ntry. Peole there work for :?, -=
"ents an ho%r. Sometimes when yo% go to a store, yo% may see a shirt made in 3angladesh. 7hat
shirt, in all likelihood, is made by a yo%ng girl who "ame in from the "o%ntryside to one of the
fa"tories there. 7he good news is that in 3angladesh, the minim%m wage was do%bled. !t went
from ,, "ents an ho%r to :- "ents an ho%r.
Are Ameri"an workers going to be able to "omete against deserate eole who make :-
"ents an ho%rC
So my view//and ! think it refle"ts the views of the Ameri"an eole//is that of "o%rse we want
to see the eole of 3angladesh and the eole of 2hina do well. 3%t they do not have to do well
at the e'ense of the Ameri"an middle "lass. 0e do not have to engage in a ra"e to the bottom.
&%r goal is to bring them %, not %s down. 3%t one of the res%lts of o%r disastro%s trade oli"ies
is that in many instan"es wages in the Bnited States have gone down.
! believe in the "oming months yo% are going to see an intensifi"ation of efforts to e'and
%nfettered free trade. ! think that will be a "ontin%ation of a disastro%s oli"y for Ameri"an
workers.
*et me ersonaliDe this a little bit. 7his gentleman, shown in this i"t%re ! have in the
2hamber//! have no ersonal anim%s toward him at all) ! think ! met him on"e in a large room.
6is name is Games Dimon. 6e is the 2E& of GPMorgan 2hase. &ver the ast ? years, Mr.
Dimon, who is the 2E& of GPMorgan 2hase, re"eived +.@ million in total "omensation//a bank
that we now know re"eived h%ndreds of billions in low/interest loans and other finan"ial
assistan"e from the #ederal Reserve and the 7reas%ry Deartment.
So Mr. Dimon re"eived +.@ million in total "omensation. 6is bank was bailed o%t big time by
the ta'ayers. 3%t %nder the legislation the President negotiated with the Re%bli"ans, Mr.
Dimon//! %se him $%st as one e'amle for tho%sands) nothing ersonal to Mr. Dimon//will
re"eive +,., million in ta' breaks. So +,., million in ta' breaks for a ma$or 2E& on 0all Street,
who over the last ? years re"eived +.@ million in total "omensation.
Meanwhile//$%st to "ontrast what is going on here//: days ago, ! bro%ght before the Senate
legislation whi"h wo%ld rovide a +:?= one/time "he"k to over ?= million seniors and disabled
veterans, who for the last : years have not re"eived a 2&*A on their So"ial Se"%rity. Many of
those seniors and disabled vets are trying to get by on +,5,===, +,?,===, +,.,=== a year. 7he
total a"kage for that bill was aro'imately +,5 billion that wo%ld go o%t to over ?= million
seniors and disabled vets. 0e won that vote on the floor of the Senate ?- to 5?. 3%t $%st be"a%se
yo% get ?- votes in the Senate does not mean yo% win. 3e"a%se the Re%bli"ans filib%stered, !
needed A= votes. ! "o%ld not get A= votes. ! "o%ld not get one Re%bli"an vote to rovide a +:?=
"he"k to a disabled veteran trying to get by on +,?,=== or +,A,=== a year.
3%t Mr. Dimon, who made +.@ million in the last ? years, will get a +, million ta' ded%"tion if
this agreement is assed. Now, that may make sense to some eole. !t does not make a lot of
sense to me.
Again, ! have no arti"%lar knowledge, anim%s//! do not know if ! ever met Gohn Ma"k in my
life. 6e is the 2E& of Morgan Stanley. !n :==A, he re"eived a +5= million bon%s, whi"h at the
time was the largest bon%s ever given to a 0all Street e'e"%tive.
7wo years after re"eiving this bon%s, Morgan Stanley re"eived some +: trillion in low/interest
loans and billions from the 7reas%ry Deartment. !nstead of losing his $ob, %nder this agreement,
Mr. Ma"k will be re"eiving an estimated +@:A,=== ta' break ne't year. 2ongrat%lations, Mr.
Ma"k. (o% are doing fine. 0e "o%ld not get +:?= for a disabled vet.
&ver the ast ? years, Fen *ewis, the former 2E& of 3ank of Ameri"a, re"eived over +,A?
million in total "omensation. !n :==., 3ank of Ameri"a re"eived h%ndreds of billions in
ta'ayer/ba"ked loans from the #ed and a +5? billion bailo%t from the 7reas%ry Deartment.
0hat will Mr. *ewis re"eive if the agreement negotiated between the President and the
Re%bli"ans goes forthC 6e will get a +>,-,=== ta' "%t.
And on and on it goes. ! did not mean to se"ifi"ally i"k on these g%ys. Some of the
wealthiest eole in the "o%ntry will be re"eiving a million/dollar/l%s ta' break. So we as a
nation have to de"ide whether that makes a lot of sense. ! think it does not.
*et me mention that a "o%le weeks ago the #ed, the #ederal Reserve, %blished on their 0eb
site some :,,=== transa"tions that took la"e d%ring the 0all Street meltdown eriod. 7hat
dis"los%re was made ossible as art of a rovision that ! %t into the finan"ial reform bill
be"a%se ! tho%ght it was imortant the Ameri"an eole, for the first time, lift the veil of se"re"y
at the #ed and get a sense of the kind of money that was lent o%t by the #ed and who re"eived
that money.
0hat is very interesting is that the Ameri"an eole and the media have fo"%sed on the +>==
billion 0all Street bailo%t now known as 7ARP. ! haen to have voted against that agreement,
b%t, in fairness, that agreement was retty transarent. 7he 7reas%ry Deartment %t % on their
0eb site all of those banks and finan"ial instit%tions that re"eived the money. !f yo% want to
know where the money went, it is right % there on the 7reas%ry Deartment4s 0eb site.
3%t at the same time, a bigger transa"tion than 7ARP was taking la"e, whi"h got relatively
little attention, and that was the role the #ed was laying in terms of the 0all Street bailo%t.
0hile the 7ARP iss%e was being debated d%ring that eriod, 3en 3ernanke, the 2hairman of
the #ederal Reserve, 7im 9eithner, who was then the resident of the New (ork #ed, and a
handf%l of other very owerf%l eole were sitting behind "losed doors getting ready to lend o%t
trillions//%nderline trillions//of ta'ayer dollars to large finan"ial instit%tions and "ororations,
with no debate going on in 2ongress, no debate whatsoever.
&n Mar"h -, :==@//and ! am a member of the Senate 3%dget 2ommittee//! asked the #ed
2hairman, Mr. 3ernanke, to tell the Ameri"an eole the names of the finan"ial instit%tions that
re"eived this %nre"edented ba"kdoor bailo%t from the #ed, how m%"h they re"eived, and the
e'a"t terms of this assistan"e. ! will never forget that. ! asked Mr. 3ernanke for that information.
6e said8 Senator, no, not going to give it to yo%, not going to make it %bli".
0ell, on that day, ! introd%"ed legislation to make that information %bli", working with a
n%mber of Members of the 6o%se and the Senate. Some strange bedfellows//"onservatives and
rogressives//"ame together on this iss%e. 0e managed to get in the 0all Street reform bill a
dis"los%re rovision, and on De"ember ,//last week//that information was made %bli". *et me
talk a little bit abo%t what was in that information made %bli" by the #ed.
After years of stonewalling, the Ameri"an eole have learned the in"redible, $aw/droing
details of the #ed4s m%ltimillion/dollar bailo%t of 0all Street and "ororate Ameri"a//not $%st
0all Street. !t is one of the things we learned. As a res%lt of this dis"los%re, in my view//we are
going to get into what was in what we learned//2ongress has to take a very e'tensive look at all
ase"ts of how the #ederal Reserve f%n"tions and how we "an make o%r finan"ial instit%tions
more resonsive to the needs of ordinary Ameri"ans and small b%sinesses.
0hat have we learned from the dis"los%re of De"ember ,C 7his is based on an e'amination of
over :,,=== searate #ederal Reserve transa"tions. More work, more resear"h needs to be done.
3%t this is what we have learned so far.
As it t%rns o%t, while small b%siness owners in the State of Vermont and thro%gho%t this
"o%ntry were being t%rned down for loans, not only did large finan"ial instit%tions//and ! am
talking abo%t every ma$or finan"ial instit%tion//re"eive s%bstantial hel from the #ed, b%t also
some of the largest "ororations in this "o%ntry//not finan"ial instit%tions//also re"eived hel in
terms of very low interest loans.
So yo% have every ma$or finan"ial instit%tion, yo% have some of o%r largest rivate
"ororations, b%t here is something we also learned, and that is that this bailo%t ima"ted not $%st
Ameri"an banks and "ororations b%t also foreign banks and foreign "ororations as well, to the
t%ne of many billions of dollars.
7hen, on to of that, a n%mber of the wealthiest individ%als in this "o%ntry also re"eived a
ma$or bailo%t from the #ed. 7he EEemergen"y resonse,44 whi"h is what the #ed des"ribed their
a"tion as d%ring the 0all Street "ollase, aears to any ob$e"tive observer to have been the
"learest "ase that ! "an imagine of so"ialism for the very ri"h and r%gged free market "aitalism
for everybody else.
!n other words, if yo% are a h%ge finan"ial instit%tion, whose re"klessness and greed "a%sed this
great re"ession, no roblem. (o% are going to re"eive a s%bstantial amo%nt of hel from the
ta'ayers of this "o%ntry. !f yo% are a ma$or Ameri"an "ororation, s%"h as 9eneral Ele"tri" or
M"Donald4s or 2aterillar or 6arley/Davidson or VeriDon, no roblem. (o% are going to re"eive
a ma$or hando%t from the B.S. 9overnment.
3%t if yo% are a small b%siness in Vermont or 2alifornia or Virginia, well, g%ess what, yo% are
on yo%r own be"a%se right now we know one of the real imediments to the kind of $ob "reation
we need in this "o%ntry is that small b%sinesses are not getting the loans they need.
#%rthermore, what we now know is the e'tent of the bailo%t for the large finan"ial
"ororations. 9oldman Sa"hs re"eived nearly +A== billion. Morgan Stanley re"eived nearly +:
trillion. 2itigro% re"eived +,.. trillion. 3ear Stearns re"eived nearly +, trillion. And Merrill
*yn"h re"eived some +,.? trillion in short/term loans from the #ed.
3%t ! think what is most s%rrising for the Ameri"an eole is not $%st the bailo%t of 0all
Street and the finan"ial instit%tions, and the bailo%t of large Ameri"an "ororations s%"h as
9eneral Ele"tri", b%t ! think the Ameri"an eole wo%ld find it very strange that at a time when
the Ameri"an a%tomobile se"tor was on the verge of "ollase//and goodness only knows how
many tho%sands and tho%sands of $obs we have lost in a%tomobile man%fa"t%ring in this
"o%ntry//the #ederal Reserve was also bailing o%t 7oyota and Mits%bishi, two Gaanese
"armakers, by %r"hasing nearly +? billion worth of their "ommer"ial aer from November ?,
:==., thro%gh Gan%ary -=, :==@.
0hile virt%ally no Ameri"an/made "ars or rod%"ts of any kind are bo%ght in Gaan, ! think the
Ameri"an eole wo%ld be sho"ked to learn that the #ed e'tended over +-.= billion to the
2entral 3ank of Gaan to bail o%t banks in that "o%ntry.
#%rthermore, ! think the Ameri"an eole are interested to know that the #ed bailed o%t the
Forea Develoment 3ank, the wholly owned, state/owned 3ank of So%th Forea, by %r"hasing
over +: billion of its "ommer"ial aer. 7he sole %rose of the Forea Develoment 3ank is to
finan"e and manage ma$or ind%strial ro$e"ts to enhan"e the national e"onomy not of the Bnited
States of Ameri"a b%t of So%th Forea. ! am not against So%th Forea. ! wish the So%th Foreans
all the l%"k in the world. 3%t it sho%ld not be the ta'ayers of the Bnited States lending their
banks4 money to "reate $obs in So%th Forea. ! wo%ld s%ggest maybe we want to "reate $obs in the
Bnited States of Ameri"a. At the same time, the #ed also e'tended over +5= billion for the
2entral 3ank of So%th Forea so that it had eno%gh money to bail o%t its own banks.
At a time when small b%sinesses in Vermont and all over this "o%ntry "annot get the loans they
need to e'and their b%sinesses, ! think the Ameri"an eole wo%ld find it e'tremely//! don4t
know what the word is//maybe am%sing that the #ed bailed o%t the state/owned 3ank of
3avaria//not Pennsylvania, not 2alifornia, b%t 3avaria//by %r"hasing over +:.: billion of its
"ommer"ial aer.
#%rthermore, when we "annot get s%ort on the floor of this Senate to e'tend %nemloyment
benefits to millions of Ameri"ans who are on the verge of seeing them e'ire, ! think the
Ameri"an eole wo%ld find it in"omrehensible that the #ed "hose to bail o%t the Arab 3anking
2ororation based in 3ahrain by roviding them with over +:- billion in loans with an interest
rate as low as one/1%arter of , er"ent. So small b%sinessmen all over Ameri"a8 Maybe yo% have
to r%n to 3ahrain and work with the Arab 3anking 2ororation there to get some retty good
loans. 3%t it wo%ld be ni"e if maybe the #ed wo%ld start to ay attention to banks in this "o%ntry.
#%rthermore, the #ed e'tended over +@.A billion to the 2entral 3ank of Me'i"o.
0hat is interesting abo%t all of this is that we had a very vigoro%s debate here in the Senate and
in the 6o%se over the +>== billion 7ARP rogram. Every erson in Ameri"a "o%ld t%rn on 2/
SPAN and hear that debate. 7hey "o%ld hear what President 3%sh had to say, hear what then/
Senator &bama and Senator McCain had to say. !t was all retty %bli". 3%t what took la"e at
the #ed, whi"h, in fa"t, amo%nted to a larger bailo%t, was done behind "losed doors. &ver +-
trillion was lent with Dero transaren"y. !n fa"t, as a res%lt of this re"ent dis"los%re//this is the
first time we have gotten a glimse of the magnit%de and the arti"%lars, the se"ifi"ities of
where that money was lent, and ! think this is not a good thing for this "o%ntry. Again, ! voted
against the bailo%t of 0all Street, b%t the debate was oen and %bli". Peole wrote to their
Senators and "alled their Senators. 7hat is "alled demo"ra"y. After the 7ARP bailo%t took la"e,
all of the loans were %t % on the 0eb site. 7ransaren"y//the Ameri"an eole knew who got
the money. 3%t the a"tions of the #ed were done behind "losed doors, and, in my view//it is an
iss%e we are st%dying right now//! think there were signifi"ant "onfli"ts of interest. ! think we
had eole sitting there at the New (ork #ed who were benefi"iaries of this bailo%t, and that is
an iss%e we need to e'lore. ! sho%ld tell my "olleag%es that as art of the rovision we got into
the finan"ial reform bill, the 9A& is, in fa"t, doing $%st that//investigating ossible "onfli"ts of
interest at the #ed with regard to this bailo%t.
! think the 1%estion the Ameri"an eole are asking as they read abo%t what the #ed did d%ring
the finan"ial "risis is whether the #ed has now be"ome the "entral bank of the world witho%t any
debate on the floor of the Senate or the 2ongress and witho%t the knowledge of the Ameri"an
eole. ! think that is wrong. So ! hoe, o%t of this effort in bringing dis"los%re and transaren"y
to the #ed, that one of the things that will "ome will be more transaren"y at the #ed.
As ! indi"ated a moment ago, the #ed said this bailo%t was ne"essary in order to revent the
world e"onomy from going over a "liff. 3%t - years after the start of the re"ession, millions of
Ameri"ans remain %nemloyed and have lost their homes, their life savings, and their ability to
send their kids to "ollege. Meanwhile, h%ge banks and large "ororations have ret%rned to
making in"redible rofits and aying their e'e"%tives re"ordbreaking "omensation a"kages, as
if the finan"ial "risis they started never o""%rred.
0hat this re"ent dis"los%re tells %s, among many other things, is that desite this h%ge ta'ayer
bailo%t, the #ed did not make the aroriate demands on these finan"ial instit%tions whi"h
wo%ld have been ne"essary to reb%ild o%r e"onomy and rote"t the needs of ordinary Ameri"ans.
!n other words, what they simly did was give o%t billions and billions of dollars whi"h were
%sed in the self/interests of these finan"ial instit%tions rather than saying8 7he Ameri"an eole
who are h%rting are bailing yo% o%t, and now that they have bailed yo% o%t, yo%r resonsibility is
to do what yo% "an to "reate $obs and to imrove the standard of living of the eole, many of
whose lives yo% have severely ima"ted.
*et me give a few e'amles of what "o%ld have been done and what sho%ld be done. At a time
when big banks have nearly +, trillion in e'"ess reserves arked at the #ed, the #ed has not
re1%ired these instit%tions to in"rease lending to small and medi%m/siDed b%sinesses as a
"ondition of the bailo%t. !n other words, instead of the #ed $%st giving money to these finan"ial
instit%tions, the #ed sho%ld have said8 0e are giving yo% this money in order to get it into the
e"onomy. Start roviding affordable loans to small b%sinesses.
At a time when large "ororations are more rofitable than ever, the #ed did not demand that
"ororations that re"eived this ba"kdoor bailo%t "reate $obs and e'and the e"onomy on"e they
ret%rned to rofitability. So what is going on in Ameri"aC Bnemloyment is offi"ially at @..
er"ent and in a real sense robably at ,? or ,A er"ent, b%t 0all Street is now doing fine.
A few years ago, 0all Street earned some 5= er"ent of all rofits in Ameri"a, and they are
doing great. 3%t what the #ed sho%ld have done and sho%ld do now is to tell 0all Street8 (o% are
art of the e"onomy. (o% are not an isolated area $%st living for yo%rselves. (o% have to be a
art of the rod%"tive e"onomy. (o% have to lend money to small b%sinesses to start "reating
$obs.
My offi"e intends to investigate whether these se"ret #ed loans, in some "ases, t%rned o%t to be
dire"t "ororate welfare to big banks that may have %sed those loans not to reinvest in the
e"onomy b%t, rather, to lend ba"k to the #ederal 9overnment at a higher rate of interest by
%r"hasing 7reas%ry se"%rities. Now, we don4t know that. Maybe that is tr%e, maybe it is not tr%e,
b%t we will take a look at it. !n other words, did the #ed give one/half of , er"ent loans to a
bank and that bank then %r"hased a 7reas%ry se"%rity at : or - er"entC !f so, yo% have a :/
er"ent rofit margin, and that is nothing b%t "ororate welfare. 7he goal of the bailo%t was not
to make 0all Street ri"her) the goal was to e'and o%r e"onomy and %t eole to work.
#%rthermore, we know that as art of the 7ARP agreement, there was an effort to say to the
finan"ial instit%tions8 0e are not bailing yo% o%t in order for yo% to get h%ge "omensation
a"kages. 0e are not going to give yo% #ederal money so yo% "an make all kinds of money. 0e
%t limitations on e'e"%tive "omensation.
Did the #ed lay the role of allowing some of the large finan"ial instit%tions to ay ba"k the
7ARP money, %se the #ed money, and then "ontin%e with their very high e'e"%tive
"omensationC 0e don4t know, b%t it is worth investigating.
#%rthermore//and this is an iss%e ! have worked on for a n%mber of years. 0e know every
ma$or religion on Earth//2hristianity, G%daism, !slam, yo% name it//has always felt that %s%ry is
immoral. 0hat we mean by %s%ry is that when someone doesn4t have a lot of money and yo%
loan them money, yo% don4t get blood o%t of a stone. (o% "an4t ask for o%trageo%sly high interest
rates when somebody is h%rting. 7hat is immoral. Every ma$or religion, all great hilosohers
have written abo%t this. (et today we have millions of eole in o%r "o%ntry//and ! hear from
Vermonters every week on this iss%e//who are aying :? er"ent or -= er"ent and in some "ases
even higher interest rates on their "redit "ards//:= er"ent, -= er"ent interest rates. 7hat is
getting blood o%t of a stone. (et many of the "redit "ard "omanies were bailed o%t by the
ta'ayers of this "o%ntry. 0hat the #ed m%st do is say to those "omanies8 Sorry, yo% "an4t
"ontin%e to ri off the Ameri"an eole and "harge them :? er"ent or -= er"ent interest rates.
As it haens, the fo%r largest banks in this "o%ntry, whi"h are 3ank of Ameri"a, GPMorgan
2hase, 0ells #argo, and 2itigro%, iss%e half of all mortgages in this "o%ntry. #o%r h%ge
finan"ial instit%tions iss%e half of all mortgages in this "o%ntry. 7hat %nto itself is a h%ge
roblem. 7hey iss%e half of all mortgages, two/thirds of all "redit "ards. 7hat seaks to another
iss%e abo%t the need to start bringing % these finan"ial instit%tions. 3%t when yo% have a handf%l
of banks that re"eived h%ge bailo%ts from the #ederal 9overnment that are iss%ing two/thirds of
the "redit "ards in this "o%ntry, it seems to me to be somewhat abs%rd that the #ed did not say to
them8 Sorry, yo% "an4t "harge eole :? or -= er"ent interest rates on yo%r "redit "ards. 7he
same rin"ile alies to mortgages. ! don4t have to tell anybody in this "o%ntry that we have
seen millions of folks lose their homes thro%gh fore"los%re, and on"e again we see that the fo%r
largest banks in this "o%ntry//3ank of Ameri"a, GPMorgan 2hase, 0ells #argo, and 2itigro%//
iss%e half of all mortgages. #o%r banks iss%e two/thirds of the "redit "ards and half of the
mortgages. 0e bail these finan"ial instit%tions o%t. Don4t they have some resonsibility to the
Ameri"an eoleC 6ow many more Ameri"ans "o%ld have remained in their homes if the #ed
had re1%ired those bailed/o%t banks to red%"e mortgage ayments as a "ondition of re"eiving
these se"ret loansC
!n terms of the interest rates on "redit "ards, a lot of eole don4t know this, b%t right now the
banks are able to "harge as m%"h as they want to "harge, b%t, in fa"t, "redit %nions are not.
Right now, we are looking at a sit%ation where over one/1%arter of all "redit "ardholders in this
"o%ntry are now aying interest rates above := er"ent and in some "ases as high as >@ er"ent.
!n my view, when "redit "ard "omanies "harge over := er"ent interest, they are not engaged in
the b%siness of making "redit available to their "%stomers) they are involved in e'tortion and
loan/sharking//nothing essentially different than gangsters who "harge o%trageo%sly high ri"es
for their loans and who break knee"as when their vi"tims "an4t afford to ay them. So that is
where we are right now.
! get "alls//and ! am s%re every other Senator gets "alls//from "onstit%ents who are very %set.
7hey are going deeer and deeer into debt be"a%se they "an4t ay :? or -= er"ent interest rates
on their "redit "ards. 0e bailed o%t the "redit "ard "omanies. 7here was no rovision that said8
Sto riing off the Ameri"an eole. Sto these "omanies from "ommitting %s%ry.
0e are working on legislation that wo%ld say to these rivate banks not to "harge any more
money for the "redit they rovide than do the "redit %nions. !t is going to be a to%gh fight
be"a%se the lobbyists from 0all Street are all over this la"e. 0all Street sends h%ge amo%nts
of money in "amaign "ontrib%tions, and it is going to be to%gh. 3%t ! think we need to ass that.
! think the #ed needs to be m%"h more a"tive, in terms of what kinds of interest rates "redit "ard
"omanies sho%ld be aying.
7oday, ! am going to fo"%s a lot, obvio%sly, on an agreement rea"hed between the President
and the Re%bli"an leadershi, whi"h ! think does not serve the Ameri"an eole well. &ne of
the areas, as ! mentioned earlier, where ! think we "o%ld do a lot better in addressing the "risis of
high %nemloyment in this Nation is by investing the kinds of money we need in o%r
infrastr%"t%re.
A""ording to the Ameri"an So"iety of 2ivil Engineers, they graded Ameri"a4s roads, %bli"
transit, and aviation with a D. 7hey said we m%st invest +:.: trillion over the ne't ? years simly
to get a assable grade. Bnfort%nately, in the agreement str%"k between the President and the
Re%bli"an leadershi, to the best of my knowledge, not one ni"kel is going into investing in o%r
infrastr%"t%re.
*et me tell yo% why we need to invest in infrastr%"t%re. A, that is where yo% "an "reate the
millions of $obs we deserately need in order to get %s o%t of this re"ession. Se"ond of all, we
need to invest in infrastr%"t%re be"a%se, if we don4t, we will be"ome less and less "ometitive
internationally.
A""ording to the National S%rfa"e 7ransortation Poli"y and Reven%e St%dy 2ommission,
+::? billion is needed ann%ally for the ne't ?= years to %grade o%r s%rfa"e transortation
system to a state of good reair and "reate a more advan"ed system. 7he #ederal 6ighway
Administration reorts that +,-= billion m%st be invested ann%ally for a :=/year eriod to
imrove o%r bridges and the oerational erforman"e of o%r highways. At resent, one in fo%r of
the Nation4s bridges is either str%"t%rally defi"ient or f%n"tionally obsolete. &ne in fo%r of o%r
bridges is either str%"t%rally defi"ient or f%n"tionally obsolete. (et in this agreement str%"k by
the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi, to the best of my knowledge, not one ni"kel is going
into o%r infrastr%"t%re. 0e need to invest in o%r infrastr%"t%re. 0e need to imrove o%r
infrastr%"t%re. 0hen we do that, we "an "reate millions of $obs.
7he #ederal 7ransit Administration says +:: billion m%st be invested ann%ally for a :=/year
eriod to imrove "onditions and erforman"es for o%r ma$or transit systems. !n Vermont, the
sit%ation is no different than in the rest of the "o%ntry. 7hirty/five er"ent of Vermont4s :,>==
bridges//nearly ,,=== bridges//are f%n"tionally obsolete. !n re"ent years, we have had to sh%t
down bridges, whi"h "a%sed a lot of in"onvenien"e to eole who live in those areas, to workers
who had to get to work %sing a bridge. Nearly half the bridges in Vermont have str%"t%ral
defi"ien"ies. R%ral transit otions are few and far between, making r%ral, low/in"ome
Vermonters ese"ially v%lnerable to sikes in gas ri"es. !n other words, in Vermont, and in
other areas of r%ral Ameri"a, yo% have one "hoi"e in the vast ma$ority of "ases as to how yo% get
to work. 7hat one "hoi"e is that yo% get in yo%r "ar, yo% ay +- for a gallon of gas, and that is it.
7hat is be"a%se r%ral transortation in this "o%ntry is very weak.
0e "an "reate $obs b%ilding the b%ses and vans we need, making it easier and "heaer for
workers in r%ral Ameri"a to get to work. !n %rban areas, it is no different. 7ransit systems in
2hi"ago, New (ork, and even here in 0ashington, D2, are in disreair. *et4s imrove and reair
them. 7hat makes %s more effi"ient, more rod%"tive, and more "ometitive, and it "reates $obs
now. Not one ni"kel, as far as ! "an %nderstand, has been invested in o%r infrastr%"t%re in this
agreement.
7he Bnited States invests $%st :.5 er"ent of 9DP in infrastr%"t%re) whereas, E%roe invests
twi"e that amo%nt.
6ere is something ! think every Ameri"an sho%ld be keenly aware of and very worried abo%t. !
don4t have to tell anybody that the 2hinese e"onomy is e'loding every single day in almost
every way. !n 2hina, they are investing almost fo%r times o%r rate//or @ er"ent//of their 9DP
ann%ally in their infrastr%"t%re. (ears ago, ! was in Shanghai, 2hina. ! was "oming from the
airort to downtown as art of a "ongressional delegation. 0hile we were on the b%s "oming in,
my wife noti"ed something. She said8 0hat was thatC 7here was a bl%r that went by the window.
&f "o%rse, ! didn4t noti"e it) she did. !t t%rned o%t that bl%r was an e'erimental train they were
working on//high/seed rail, whi"h is now oerational there, and other similar rototyes are
being develoed in 2hina. 6ere we are, the Bnited States of Ameri"a, whi"h for so many years
led the world in so many ways, and now yo% are seeing a newly develoing "o%ntry s%"h as
2hina with high/seed rail all over their "o%ntry, making them more rod%"tive and effi"ient,
and in o%r "ities, o%r s%bways are breaking down. Amtrak is going ?=, A= miles an ho%r, and the
2hinese and E%roeans have trains going h%ndreds of miles an ho%r.
7his is the Bnited States of Ameri"a. Maybe ! am old/fashioned. ! think we "an do it too. !
think we "an reb%ild o%r rail system, make o%r "o%ntry more effi"ient and "reate $obs.
2hina invested +,.A billion in rail from :==A to :==@, and a""ording to the New (ork 7imes,
within : years, they will oen 5: new high/seed rail lines, with trains rea"hing seeds of :==
miles an ho%r. 7hat is 2hina. So ! think if 2hina "an do it, the Bnited States of Ameri"a "an do
it. 7hat is the way to reb%ild Ameri"a, make %s stronger and "reate $obs.
3y :=:=, 2hina lans to add :A,=== additional miles of tra"ks for freight and travel, as well as
:-=,=== miles of new or imroved roads, and @> new airorts//@> new airorts. Does anybody in
Ameri"a have the same roblem ! have when yo% go to the airort, where yo% are waiting in line
and yo% have to deal with all the roblems of older airortsC 2hina is b%ilding @> new ones. 0e
are not. !f we are going to be effe"tive in the international e"onomy, and if o%r kids will have
de"ent $obs, it is high time we woke % and began investing in o%r infrastr%"t%re. So that is not
only to imrove the long/term strength of Ameri"a, o%r e"onomi" rowess, b%t it is also to "reate
$obs right now that we deserately need.
Bnfort%nately, in this bill, this ta' agreement between the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi, there are many billions of dollars going into ta' breaks for "ororations. 3%t there is
not a whole lot of money//in fa"t, Dero dollars//going into reb%ilding o%r infrastr%"t%re.
Similarly//and ! know there has been debate sin"e yesterday on this iss%e. 7here may be a
small breakthro%gh. ! don4t have to tell Ameri"ans, least of all the eole in Vermont, abo%t what
haens when the weather gets "old and yo% are for"ed to ay very high ri"es for heating oil.
7he time is long overd%e for %s to make the investments we need to transform o%r energy system
away from "oal, away from oil. 0e are sending as a nation//and everybody in Ameri"a has to
are"iate this//+-?= billion every single year//+, billion a day, ro%ghly//imorting oil from
Sa%di Arabia and other foreign "o%ntries, in order to make o%r e"onomy go and in order to kee
eole warm.
*et me be very "lear. 7he royal family of Sa%di Arabia, whi"h is o%r ma$or so%r"e of oil, is
doing $%st fine. Don4t worry abo%t the royal family of Sa%di Arabia. 7hey have Dillions and
Dillions of dollars. Maybe it is a good idea that we seek energy indeenden"e, that we break o%r
deenden"e on fossil f%el, and be"ome more energy effi"ient, whi"h, by the way, investing in
%bli" transortation "ertainly will do, and we move to s%stainable energy, s%"h as wind, solar,
geothermal, and biomass. 9%ess what. 2hina is doing that. Many of the solar anels "oming into
this "o%ntry are not made in the Bnited States b%t are made in 2hina. 7hey are big into wind
t%rbines. ! think the time is now for %s to reb%ild o%r infrastr%"t%re and "reate the $obs we
deserately need.
Again, %nfort%nately, desite the enormo%s infrastr%"t%re needs we have in this "o%ntry, this
agreement, signed by the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi, does not do that. 0hen we
talk abo%t transforming o%r energy system and moving away from fossil f%el and making o%r
homes more energy effi"ient and b%ilding solar anels, moving toward solar thermal ower, in
the So%thwest of this "o%ntry//New Me'i"o, AriDona, Nevada//we have some of the best solar
e'os%re in the entire world. 7here are estimates that $%st in the So%thwest of this "o%ntry, on
#ederal land, we "an rovide -= er"ent of the ele"tri"ity Ameri"an homes need, if we move
toward solar thermal. 0e need to invest in o%r transmission lines.
0hat we are talking abo%t is massive investment to "reate $obs, make %s energy indeendent,
"lean % the environment, and deal with the h%ge amo%nt of greenho%se gas emissions whi"h are
"ontrib%ting to global warming. 7hat is a win/win/win sit%ation. (et we are not seeing that in
this bill.
! wish to tell yo% something, Mr. President. ! will get into this at greater length later. 0hen we
talk abo%t o%r good friends in the oil ind%stry//and ! am not here to make a long see"h abo%t 3P
and what they have done in *o%isiana, et "etera. ! want everybody to know this. ! will get into
this at greater length later. *ast year, o%r friends at E''onMobil//and E''onMobil has
histori"ally been the most rofitable "ororation in the history of the world. *ast year,
E''onMobil had, for them, a very bad year. 7hey only made +,@ billion in rofit. 3ased on +,@
billion, yo% might be s%rrised to know E''onMobil not only aid nothing in ta'es, they got a
+,?A million ret%rn from the !RS. 6ow is thatC #or those of yo% who are working in an offi"e,
working in a fa"tory, earning yo%r +-=,===, +5=,===, +?=,===, +A=,=== a year, yo% ay ta'es.
3%t if yo% are E''onMobil, and yo% made +,@ billion in rofits last year, not only did yo% not
ay any ta'es this year, yo% got +,?A million in ret%rn.
!t is not $%st the large oil "omanies that do not ay their fair share of ta'es. ! am going to get
into this a little bit later, b%t when we try to %nderstand why we have s%"h a h%ge national debt
and a +,.- or +,.5 trillion defi"it, it is also imortant to %nderstand that many large and rofitable
"ororations avoid virt%ally all of their ta' resonsibility.
!n A%g%st :==., the 9eneral A""o%ntability &ffi"e iss%ed a reort. A""ording to this reort,
two o%t of every three "ororations in the Bnited States aid no #ederal in"ome ta'es between
,@@. and :==?. 0e have a +,-.> trillion national debt, and a""ording to a 9A& reort %blished
in A%g%st of :==. two o%t of every three "ororations in the Bnited States aid no #ederal
in"ome ta'es between ,@@. and :==?. AmaDingly, these "ororations had a "ombined +:.?
trillion in sales b%t aid no in"ome ta'es to the !RS.
#%rthermore, a""ording to a reort from 2itiDens #or 7a' G%sti"e, .: #ort%ne ?== "omanies in
Ameri"a//! g%ess that is .: o%t of ?==//aid Dero or less in #ederal in"ome ta'es in at least , year
from :==, to :==-. 7hat is a reort from 2itiDens #or 7a' G%sti"e. And the 2itiDens #or 7a'
G%sti"e reort goes on to say8
!n the years they aid no in"ome ta', these "omanies earned +,=: billion in B.S. rofits. 3%t
instead of aying +-?.A billion in in"ome ta'es, as the stat%tory -? er"ent "ororate ta' rate
seems to re1%ire, these "omanies generated so many e'"ess ta' breaks that they re"eived
o%tright ta' rebate "he"ks from the B.S. 7reas%ry totaling +,:.A billion.
7hat is from the 2itiDens #or 7a' G%sti"e reort.
So when we take a "omrehensive look at what is going on in this "o%ntry, why we have a
+,-.> trillion national debt, it is terribly imortant to %nderstand that while the middle "lass ays
its share of ta'es, there are many large "ororations that not only are aying nothing in ta'es,
they are getting rebates from the #ederal 9overnment.
! will go into greater length later on, b%t as a member of the 3%dget 2ommittee ! "an tell yo%
we dis"%ss 1%ite often how every single year//every single year//"ororate interests and wealthy
individ%als stash away h%ge amo%nts of money in ta' savings in the 2ayman !slands, 3erm%da,
and other "o%ntries in order to avoid aying their ta'es in the Bnited States of Ameri"a. 7hese
are Ameri"an "ororations t%rning their ba"k on the Ameri"an eole, saying//as Mrs. 6elmsley
said so many years ago, many of yo% remember//only small eole ay ta'es. &nly the working
stiffs o%t there ay ta'es.
!f yo% are a large "ororation and yo% have a good lawyer or a good a""o%ntant, yo% know
what to do. (o% invest yo%r money in the 2ayman !slands and in 3erm%da, and yo% don4t have
to ay Ameri"an ta'es. 3%t, by the way, as the dis"los%re reort last week indi"ated, no roblem)
yo% get bailed o%t. 0hen things get bad, yo% will be bailed o%t by the Ameri"an ta'ayers. &n
and on and on it goes. 7he ri"h and large "ororations get ri"her, the 2E&s earn h%ge
"omensation a"kages, and when things get bad, don4t worry) Bn"le Sam and the Ameri"an
ta'ayers are here to bail yo% o%t. 3%t when yo% are in tro%ble, well, we $%st "an4t afford to hel
yo%, if yo% are in the working "lass or the middle "lass of this "o%ntry.
! want to ret%rn for a moment to the agreement that the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi negotiated be"a%se ! think that is the iss%e that all of Ameri"a is now talking abo%t.
7he President and the Re%bli"an leadershi say it is a good deal. Demo"rats in the 6o%se
yesterday said8 0ait a se"ond. !t doesn4t look to %s like it is a good deal. !n fa"t, we don4t even
want to bring it % on the floor of the 6o%se. !n the Senate, ! "an tell yo% there are a n%mber of
%s//! don4t know how many//who say8 0ait a min%te. 7his is not a good deal for the middle
"lass, it is not a good deal for o%r kids, and it is not a good deal for o%r workers. 0e "an
negotiate a better deal. 7he reason we are trying to delay assage of this agreement//and ! hoe
very m%"h it doesn4t have the votes here//is we want the Ameri"an eole to stand and say8 0ait
a se"ond, it makes no sense to %s to be giving h%ge ta' breaks to the ri"hest eole in this
"o%ntry//literally millionaires and billionaires//and driving % the national debt so o%r kids "an
ay more in ta'es in order to ay off that debt.
7his is a transfer of wealth. !t is Robin 6ood in reverse. 0e are taking from the middle "lass
and working families and we are giving it to the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry. ! believe the
agreement str%"k between the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi is a bad deal. 7here may
be some good arts to it, b%t, by and large, it is not a good deal. 0e "an do better, and the
Ameri"an eole m%st stand % and work with %s. 7hey m%st get on their hones and "all their
Senators and "all their 2ongress men and women. 7hey m%st make their voi"es heard and say8
Eno%gh is eno%gh. 7he ri"h have it all right now//the to , er"ent earns :- ,H: er"ent of all
in"ome, more than the bottom ?= er"ent//and it is abs%rd that we "ontin%e to bail o%t eole
who do not need any hel and who are doing $%st fine.
! am here to take a stand against this bill, and ! am going to do everything ! "an to defeat this
bill. ! am going to tell my "olleag%es and the Ameri"an eole e'a"tly why, in my view, this is
not good legislation. *et me $%st ti"k off some of the reasons ! think this bill does not serve the
best interests of the disaearing middle "lass of this "o%ntry.
! don4t know what kind of telehone "alls the Presiding &ffi"er is re"eiving from 2olorado, b%t
! "an tell yo% that in the last - days alone, a""ording to my front desk staff both here in
0ashington and in Vermont, we are over ?,=== telehone "alls and e/mails, and ! believe well
over @. er"ent of those messages are against this agreement. ! don4t know to what degree that is
indi"ative of what is going on all over this "o%ntry, b%t ! s%se"t it is not radi"ally different in
other States. ! think the Ameri"an eole are saying, with a +,-.. trillion national debt, let4s not
give ta' breaks to billionaires and drive % that national debt, for"ing o%r kids to ay more in
ta'es, and at the same time have Re%bli"ans "oming forward to start slashing Medi"are and
Medi"aid and So"ial Se"%rity be"a%se of this large debt that we are making larger.
! aeal to my "onservative friends. ! am not a "onservative, b%t many "onservatives have
sent their entire oliti"al "areers saying we "annot afford to drive % the national debt, that it is
%ns%stainable. ! agree with that. So vote against this agreement be"a%se it is driving % the
national debt. !n a signifi"ant way it is doing that by giving ta' breaks to eole who absol%tely
don4t need it.
&n"e again, for those eole who are earning +, million a year or more, on average//on
average//they will be getting a +,==,===/a/year ta' break, and for eole earning +,== million a
year, that n%mber will be a lot higher. 0ho believes that makes any sense at allC
*et me give some other reasons ! think this agreement is a bad agreement. 7he President says8
0ell, yes, we are going to e'tend ta' breaks for all, in"l%ding the to : er"ent. 3%t don4t worry,
it is only going to be for : years//not to worry, it is only going to be for : years.
0ell, maybe that will be the "ase. 3%t yo% know what. ! do%bt that very m%"h. ! have been in
2ongress long eno%gh to know if yo% e'tend a ta' break, it is very hard to %ndo that e'tension
be"a%se if we "an4t tell o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es that it is abs%rd to "ontin%e giving ta' breaks
to millionaires and billionaires//if we "an4t do it now//what makes yo% think we will do it in the
midst of a Presidential ele"tionC
! say that as somebody who admires and likes the President. 7he President is a friend of mine.
3%t his "redibility has been severely damaged. !f he is going to go forward, and if he is the
Demo"rati" nominee, ! s%se"t he will say8 (es, ! e'tended it for : years against my will) b%t,
don4t worry, ! am going to reeal them after : years. 7ell me, who will believe himC 6is
"redibility has been severely damaged. 0e are "aving in on this iss%e and we sho%ld not be.
7he olls show %s the Ameri"an eole do not believe millionaires and billionaires need more
ta' breaks. !f the "alls to my offi"e are indi"ative of what is going on in this "o%ntry, there is
overwhelming oosition to that agreement.
So ! am saying that while the President says don4t worry, that this is only temorary, ! don4t like
it. 3%t it is only : years. ! have my do%bts. ! e'e"t in : years, if this agreement goes forward, it
will be e'tended again. As yo% know, Mr. President, they wanted ,= years on this e'tension of
ta' breaks for the ri"h. ! have my strong s%si"ion that is e'a"tly what will haen, if not made
ermanent. 7his "o%ntry "annot afford to give ta' breaks to millionaires and billionaires and
have the middle "lass ay higher ta'es to ay them off.
! want to say also that while a lot of attention has been fo"%sed on the ersonal in"ome ta'
iss%e, that is not the only %nfair ta' roosal in this agreement. 7his agreement "ontin%es the
3%sh era ,? er"ent ta' rate on "aital gains and dividends.
*et me be "lear abo%t what that means. !t means those eole who make their living off of their
investments//if yo% invest, if yo% earn dividends//will "ontin%e to ay a s%bstantially lower ta'
rate than the average Ameri"an erson in the working "lass, middle "lass//o%r firemen, o%r
tea"hers, o%r n%rses. 7hose eole are not going to ay ,? er"ent. 7hey ay a higher rate than
folks who have "aital gains and dividends. ! think that is wrong. 7his agreement e'tends those
rovisions.
#%rthermore//and this is a oint that has to be made over and over//this agreement between the
President and the Re%bli"ans lowers the estate ta' rate to -? er"ent. Bnder this agreement, the
estate ta' will de"line to -? er"ent. Bnder President 2linton, when the e"onomy was m%"h
stronger, the estate ta' was ?? er"ent.
Now, ! know the Re%bli"ans have done a very good $ob in trying to "onvin"e the Ameri"an
eole this is a so/"alled death ta') that in every family in Ameri"a, when a loved one dies, the
family is going to have to ay -? er"ent, 5? er"ent, or ?? er"ent. ! have had eole in
3%rlington, V7, "ome % to me and say8 0hat are yo% doingC ! have +-=,=== in the bank that !
want to leave to my kids. 0hy are yo% for"ing my kids to ay s%"h a large ta'C
So let me be very "lear. 7he Re%bli"ans have done a very good $ob in totally distorting this
iss%e.
7he estate ta' is aid only by the to three/tenths of , er"ent of families in Ameri"a. !f yo%
are in the middle "lass, even if yo% are modestly wealthy, even if yo% are wealthy, or if yo% are
oor, if yo% are lower middle "lass, yo% don4t ay a ni"kel in estate ta' if somebody in yo%r
family were to die and leave yo% wealth//not a ni"kel. 7his alies not $%st to the ri"h b%t to the
very, very ri"h.
0hat the Re%bli"ans have been arg%ing for several years now is they want to reeal the estate
ta' entirely. !f they were s%""essf%l in doing that, that wo%ld mean in"reasing the national debt
by +, trillion over a ,=/year eriod and all of the benefits//not some, all of the benefits//go to the
to three/tenths of , er"ent) @@.> er"ent of the eole do not gain one ni"kel.
0hat is in this agreement is not what the Re%bli"ans ideally want, whi"h is a reeal of the ta'
entirely, b%t what they do get is a red%"tion to -? er"ent with an e'emtion on the first +?
million of an individ%al4s estate.
6ere is a "hart whi"h indi"ates $%st what ! said a moment ago. EEReealing the estate ta' wo%ld
add more than +, trillion to the defi"it over ,= years.44 !t is over +, trillion, and the benefi"iaries
of it are $%st the very wealthy.
*et me give an e'amle of what the reeal of the estate ta' wo%ld mean. ! will read it right off
this "hart.
Sam 0alton4s family, the heirs to the 0al/Mart fort%ne, are worth an estimated +.A.. billion.
7he 0alton family wo%ld re"eive an estimated +-:.> billion ta' break if the estate ta' was
"omletely reealed.
7his is what o%r Re%bli"an friends want.
7his agreement between the President and the Re%bli"ans "ertainly does not reeal the estate
ta', b%t it does signifi"antly lower the rates that the ri"hest eole, the very ri"hest eole in this
"o%ntry, wo%ld have to ay.
;Mr. BDA** of 2olorado ass%med the "hair.<
7wo days ago, ! bro%ght to the floor of the Senate a very simle ie"e of legislation. ! think
how that legislation was treated seaks vol%mes abo%t the debate we are having now. 7his
legislation said that with over ?= million senior "itiDens on So"ial Se"%rity and disabled vets for
the se"ond year in a row not getting a "ost/of/living ad$%stment, a 2&*A//over ?= million
seniors on So"ial Se"%rity and disabled vets not getting any 2&*A at all//desite the fa"t their
res"rition dr%g "osts are going % and their health "are "osts are going %, they got no 2&*A.
! said ! think that in these to%gh times, it is aroriate that we rovide those folks//if we "annot
get them a 2&*A, let4s get them the e1%ivalent of a measly : er"ent 2&*A, a +:?= "he"k to all
of o%r seniors and disabled vets. 7hat is what we did, by the way, in the stim%l%s a"kage. 7hat
is all. #or over ?= million eole, a +:?= "he"k "osts o%r government abo%t +,5 billion. (et !
"o%ld not get one Re%bli"an vote in s%ort of that. Re%bli"ans say8 My goodness, imagine a
senior or disabled vet living on +,?,=== or +:=,=== a year getting a +:?= "he"k. 0hat an
o%trage. 0e have different riorities, they say. 0e want to give a +, million ta' break to
somebody who earns +?= million a year. 7hat abo%t says it all. !f yo% are very, very ri"h, the
good news is yo% are going to get more ta' breaks. 3%t if yo% are a senior or disabled vet, we
"an4t get yo% a +:?= "he"k.
! will say that the vote on the floor of the Senate was ?- eole in favor of roviding that one/
time "he"k, 5? against//?- to 5?8 0e won. 3%t here in the Senate, ma$ority does not r%le.
Re%bli"ans filib%ster almost everything, and it re1%ires A= votes. 0e did not get the A= votes,
and seniors did not get that "he"k. ! am going to do my best to see that they do get it. 0e are
going to bring that iss%e ba"k and ba"k again.
! raise that iss%e to tell yo% that one of the very weakest roosals in this agreement, totally
o%trageo%s, is the de"rease in ta'es for the estate ta'.
7here is another iss%e ! want to to%"h on. ! am going to send a lot of time on this iss%e
be"a%se it has not gotten the "overage and the attention ! think it deserves.
7his agreement deals with the so/"alled ayroll ta' holiday. ! know the Vi"e President and the
President and others have been to%ting this. 7hey say this is really a good thing be"a%se it will
%t more money into the o"kets of the working eole. 0hat will haen//right now, if yo% are
a worker, yo% %t A.: er"ent into So"ial Se"%rity. !t is going to be red%"ed for , year to 5.:
er"ent. (o% get the differen"e, and this is really a good thing. All of %s want to see working
eole have more money in their o"kets. 7hat is what we do. 7hat is what we are fighting for.
3%t let me be "lear that while on the s%rfa"e this so/"alled ayroll ta' holiday so%nds like a
good idea for working eole, it is a"t%ally a very bad idea. 0hat the Ameri"an eole sho%ld
%nderstand is that this ayroll ta' holiday originated from rightwing Re%bli"ans whose %ltimate
goal, tr%st me, is not to %t more money into the o"kets of working families) it is the %ltimate
destr%"tion of So"ial Se"%rity. 0hat they %nderstand is that if we divert f%nding that is s%osed
to go into the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd, this will %ltimately weaken the long/term finan"ial
viability of So"ial Se"%rity. !n other words, what we are doing is, for the very first time,
diverting money whi"h is s%osed to go into the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd and we are giving it
to workers today. !t is like eating o%r seed.
Rather than going into So"ial Se"%rity, the President says8 Don4t worry, this is going to be
"overed this year by the #ederal 9overnment. 0e have never seen that before. ! don4t want
So"ial Se"%rity to be deendent on the #ederal 9overnment be"a%se the #ederal 9overnment has
a +,-.> trillion national debt. And what ! worry abo%t is this is not $%st a ,/year rovision) this
also "o%ld be e'tended.
*et me 1%ote 3arbara Fennelly.
! am glad to see ! am $oined here on the floor by one of the strongest fighters for working
families in the Senate, Senator Sherrod 3rown of &hio. ! $%st want to say this before ! ask him a
1%estion or before he asks me a 1%estion or whatever the roto"ol is.
! want to 1%ote what 3arbara Fennelly, the resident and 2E& of the National 2ommittee to
Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are, said. 7his is one of the largest senior "itiDens gro%s in
Ameri"a.
Even tho%gh So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%ted nothing to the "%rrent e"onomi" "risis, it has been
bartered in a deal that rovides defi"it/b%sting ta' "%ts for the wealthy.
6ere is the key oint8
Diverting +,:= billion in So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%tions for a so/"alled EEta' holiday44 may so%nd
like a good deal for workers now, b%t it4s bad b%siness for a rogram that a ma$ority of middle/
"lass seniors will rely %on in the f%t%re.
3arbara Fennelly, resident and 2E& of the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity
and Medi"are.
! am $oined by my very good friend from &hio, and ! want to ask him his sense of this overall
agreement.
Mr. 3R&0N of &hio. My sense is similar to yo%rs. ! was $%st on a 7V show a min%te ago. !
was asked, the liberals or the "onservatives, what they think abo%t this. 7his really is not a
liberal/"onservative iss%e. #irst of all, the ta' "%ts overwhelmingly go to the wealthiest
ta'ayers. 0e are seeing the kinds of ta' "%ts that millionaires and billionaires get from the
in"ome ta' and from the estate ta'. 3%t it is also e1%ally imortant that it blows a hole in o%r
b%dget defi"it.
!n some sense, we are borrowing tens of billions of dollars every year now//if this agreement
be"omes law, we are borrowing tens of billions of dollars every year from the 2hinese, and we
are %tting it on the "redit "ards of o%r "hildren and grand"hildren for them to ay off who
knows when, and then we are giving these ta' "%ts to millionaires and billionaires. !n those
simle terms, it doesn4t make sense. !t doesn4t make sense in o%r relationshi with 2hina. !t
doesn4t make sense in the lost $obs that "ome from that 2hina trade oli"y. !t doesn4t make sense
in %ndermining the middle "lass. !t doesn4t make sense in terms of fairness in the ta' system. !t
doesn4t make sense for o%r "hildren and grand"hildren and the b%rden they are going to have to
bear to ay off this debt. 9iving a millionaire a ta' "%t and "harging it to o%r kids, who are
aying ta'es on, %nfort%nately, in the last few years, de"lining wages, is morally rerehensible.
! know Senator Sanders has been on the floor : ho%rs now talking abo%t this and how
imortant it is and really analyDing it and ed%"ating abo%t it and all that. ! think abo%t the
e"onomi" oli"y, too, that this embodies.
Nine or ,= years ago, Senator Sanders and the Presiding
&ffi"er, when he was a Member of the 6o%se, Senator Udall from 2olorado, and ! and others
voted against the 3%sh ta' "%ts of :==, and :==-, rin"ially be"a%se those ta' "%ts
overwhelmingly went to the wealthy and ended % adding to o%r national debt. 0e had a s%rl%s
then. 0e s%re don4t now. 0e had the largest s%rl%s we ever had in :==,. !t blew a hole in that.
3%t we assed those ta' "%ts %nder the belief, those who s%orted it//President 3%sh and
Senator McConnell and so many others//%nder the belief that that kind of tri"kle/down
e"onomi"s wo%ld grow o%r e"onomy.
!n the . years//and this is not artisan, this is not oinion, this is fa"t//from Gan%ary ,, :==,, to
Gan%ary ,, :==@, President 3%sh4s . years, we a"t%ally had rivate se"tor $ob loss in this "o%ntry.
2ontrast that with a different e"onomi" oli"y//Gan%ary ,, ,@@-, to Gan%ary ,, :==,, the 2linton
. years. Again, this isn4t artisan, this isn4t oinion, this is fa"t. D%ring the 2linton . years, we
had :, million rivate se"tor $obs "reated//:, million rivate se"tor $obs "reated//and literally
Dero rivate se"tor $obs in the 3%sh . years of tri"kle/down e"onomi"s.
0hy wo%ld we blow a hole in the b%dget, whi"h this bill does, for o%r kids to ay offC 0hy
wo%ld we "ontin%e an e"onomi" oli"y that "learly did not work for this "o%ntryC !t didn4t work
for the middle "lass. 0e saw middle/"lass wages//not only no $ob in"rease d%ring those . years,
e'"et for the eole at the very to, we saw a"t%al wage stagnation or worse. Most Ameri"ans
did not get a raise d%ring the . 3%sh years. Most Ameri"ans simly saw their wages flat or in
many "ases de"line. 7he s%erwealthy saw a big in"rease in their in"omes and in their net assets.
And now we are going to give a ta' break to them.
7his is not "lass warfare. *ots of eole ! know have a lot of money. ! don4t have any ill will
for them. 3%t why wo%ld we hel those eole who have done so very well and then have o%r
"hildren ay for itC
Senator Sanders $%st mentioned the letter from 3arbara Fennelly from one of the largest
seniors organiDations in the "o%ntry and what this will mean for So"ial Se"%rity. 6ere is my fear.
!f this is assed, we are going to see o%r b%dget defi"it in"rease, a""ording to the 2ongressional
3%dget &ffi"e, abo%t +@== billion be"a%se of this a"kage, +.==/some billion over the ne't
"o%le of years.
As soon as it is signed by President &bama, even tho%gh it was negotiated with the Re%bli"an
Senate leadershi and overwhelming n%mbers of Re%bli"ans in the Senate and 6o%se//! ass%me
they are going to vote for it//they are going to say8 *ook at the h%ge b%dget defi"it President
&bama "reated. #rom that day on, they are going to go after ways to "%t the b%dget. 7hat is &F. !
agree we need to deal with sending and ta'es and the whole i"t%re.
3%t ! also know from wat"hing Re%bli"ans//! saw them in the 6o%se when they moved
toward Medi"are rivatiDation in :==-, :==5, and :==?. 7hey had some s%""ess. #ort%nately, we
were able to beat ba"k most of it. ! remember that in :==?, after President 3%sh was reele"ted in
a very "lose ra"e, he soke reeatedly abo%t rivatiDing So"ial Se"%rity. ! know that is what they
want to do. !n the ,@@=s, Seaker 9ingri"h//fort%nately beaten ba"k by President 2linton//tried
to rivatiDe Medi"are.
7hat is the way they "%t the b%dget, they go after Medi"are and So"ial Se"%rity. So this vote on
this a"kage//to me, we need to "all the President, write the President, work with the President to
say8 No deal, and this has to be something very different from what it is now be"a%se it will
"a%se h%ge defi"its o%r "hildren and grand"hildren will have to bear. !t will not hel the e"onomy
are"iably be"a%se we saw what the tri"kle/down e"onomi" oli"ies of the 3%sh years did. !t
does not hel the middle "lass eno%gh.
So it is retty "lear to me how this $eoardiDes So"ial Se"%rity, how it $eoardiDes Medi"are,
how it will for"e more "%ts and more ress%re on those rograms that have lifted so many eole
into the middle "lass. !n ,@A?, when Medi"are was first assed, half of the senior "itiDens in this
"o%ntry had no health ins%ran"e//half of the seniors had no health ins%ran"e. 7oday @@ er"ent of
seniors have health ins%ran"e, something like that.
! know we are a "o%ntry now that has "reated a strong middle "lass. 0e have seen that middle
"lass//be"a%se of these ta' "%ts for the wealthy, tri"kle/down kind of e"onomi" oli"y, we have
seen the middle "lass shrink in the last few years. ! do not want that to kee haening. 7hat is
why ! am very "on"erned abo%t this. 7hat is why ! am working with the Senate to say8 No deal.
0e need to m%"h more serio%sly fo"%s on not r%nning % a h%ge debt, on making s%re So"ial
Se"%rity is rote"ted, on an e"onomi" oli"y that works for the middle "lass, on a ta' oli"y that
is fair to the middle "lass.
7hat is why Senator Sanders4 work is so imortant on the floor today, taking the floor for a
longer eriod than anybody ! have seen sin"e ! have been in the Senate, in a filib%ster kind of
setting, where he is raising these 1%estions, asking these 1%estions, ed%"ating the %bli", talking
to eole all over the "o%ntry, in this 2hamber and o%tside to "hange this oli"y.
Mr. SANDERS. !f ! "o%ld interr%t my friend from &hio and ask him a 1%estion, it is on an
iss%e the Senator dealt with last night. 7alk abo%t the kind of riorities we have seen in the
Senate re"ently, where $%st a "o%le of days ago the Senator and ! worked very hard to try to
make s%re seniors on So"ial Se"%rity and disabled vets were able to get a +:?= "he"k at a "ost of
+,5 billion, we "o%ld not get one Re%bli"an vote for that, while at the same time Re%bli"ans
are %shing ta' breaks of over +, million a year for the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry. Does that
seem////
Mr. 3R&0N of &hio. !t tells a story. ! "ame to the floor right after that vote. ! had s%orted it
all along. ! "osonsored Senator Sanders4 effort to bring that to the floor, for the +:?= "he"k for
all seniors and all disabled veterans, ! might add, not $%st So"ial Se"%rity benefi"iaries. 3%t !
"ame to the floor right afterwards be"a%se ! was retty amaDed.
! know there is artisanshi here. ! know some eole think their whole view of the world is to
give ta' "%ts to the ri"hest eole of the world and it will all tri"kle down and we will all do
better, it will lift all boats. 7hat is a retty good e"onomi" theory yo% might have learned at
6arvard or yo% might have learned at Gohns 6okins near here or wherever. 3%t it does not
work. !t is a ni"e theory, b%t it does not work to lift all boats.
So Senator Sanders4 effort was to rovide a +:?= "he"k, one time, at a "ost of +,5 billion. 3%t
one time, not "ontin%ed +,5 billion//one time for seniors who had not had a "ost/of/living
ad$%stment in : years. !t $%st seemed to make so m%"h sense when the average senior in this
"o%ntry gets abo%t a +,5,===/a/year So"ial Se"%rity "he"k. ! think that is abo%t +,,:== a month.
7hat is not their entire in"ome for most seniors, b%t it is a big art of it. Many seniors live only
on that. Many more seniors live on that, b%t only another "o%le +-==, +5== a month.
7here is not inflation maybe for eole my age so m%"h in this "o%ntry, b%t if yo% are older
and yo% have a lot of health "are "osts, there is inflation be"a%se the health "are "osts seem to go
% higher than maybe anything b%t higher ed%"ation, and maybe as m%"h as that. So it was
imortant that +:?= be rovided, we think, to every senior in the "o%ntry and every disabled vet.
0hat was so amaDing abo%t it was that 5: Re%bli"an Senators signed a letter saying they
wo%ld do nothing, nothing in the Senate, %ntil ta' "%ts for the ri"h were aroved, %ntil they
were signed into law.
Now, ! have never seen Senators engage in a work stoage or a strike. ! mean, it was not 1%ite
a strike, whi"h it is robably illegal for %s to strike. ! do not know, maybe. 3%t it was a work
stoage.
7hey are saying8 0e are not doing anything %ntil yo% give ta' "%ts to my ri"h friends, and !
might say also to many eole in the 6o%se and Senate whose in"ome is in that bra"ket too. ! am
not a""%sing them of that, to be s%re, b%t they were there for their ri"h friends and their biggest
"ontrib%tors and the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry. 3%t they were not there for a senior "itiDen
living on +,,:== a month that "o%ld %se that e'tra +:?=.
! have met too many seniors, and ! know the Presiding &ffi"er, when he travels to 2olorado
Srings or he goes to 2imarron or he goes to Denver, ! know he hears seniors say8 ! "%t my ills
in half be"a%se ! need my res"rition to r%n for : months rather than , be"a%se ! "annot afford
it. &r ! skied my medi"ine today be"a%se my ho%se is too "old, and ! do not have eno%gh heat.
0e know seniors make those "hoi"es. 0e make "hoi"es here, and the "hoi"e we made is 5:
Re%bli"ans made it and blo"ked it be"a%se we need A= votes. 0e had a ma$ority of voters, an
easy ma$ority, for Senator Sanders4 effort, ?- votes, ?- votes to do this, the +:?=, b%t we need A=
votes.
So 5: Re%bli"an Senators engaged in their work stoage saying8 0e are not doing anything
%ntil we get these ta' "%ts for the ri"h. 7hey said no to seniors. ! am amaDed by that, the
"allo%sness. ! g%ess ! am even more amaDed when yo% "onsider//what is today, the ,=th//when
yo% "onsider in : weeks it is 2hristmas Day. 7hat does not seem to bother them. !t does not seem
to bother them on %nemloyment benefits. And .?,=== &hioans, a week and a half ago, lost their
%nemloyment benefits//.?,===. 7heir holiday season is r%ined.
3%t ! g%ess all of %s will go home. ! want to go home and be with 2onnie and my kids on
2hristmas. My "hildren are grown. 0e have one grand"hild. ! want to be with him for as m%"h
of 2hristmas as ! "an. 3%t we have a $ob to do today, this week and ne't week and this month
and this year) and that is to e'tend %nemloyment benefits to eole who have lost them, who
are looking for $obs as hard as they "an in a great ma$ority of "ases, and e'tending the ta' "%ts
for the middle "lass and doing the right thing. So far, we have not done that.
! need to go to the airort. 3%t ! want to yield ba"k to Senator Sanders for his work today. !
hoe ne't week, when we "ome ba"k on Monday, we are reared to do whatever it takes to say
no deal on this one and to make this work for the middle "lass, make it work for So"ial Se"%rity
benefi"iaries, make it work for %nemloyed workers.
Mr. SANDERS. ! thank my good friend from &hio, one of the real fighters for working
families in the Senate, not only for "oming down here b%t for his years of efforts. 3%t he makes a
very imortant oint. 0e have a $ob to do and the $ob is//! know some eole do not believe it. !t
is a rather radi"al "on"et. 3%t o%r $ob is to reresent working families, the middle "lass, and not
the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry.
! have fo%r kids, si' grand"hildren. ! look forward to sending the holidays with them. 3%t yo%
know what. 0e have a $ob to do, and if it means staying here thro%gh 2hristmas Eve, thro%gh
New (ear4s, that is o%r $ob. And let4s ass a roosal that works well for ordinary families and
not $%st for the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry.
! wanted to thank Senator Sherrod Brown for "oming down.
0hat ! want to say now is, when yo% look at this agreement, we have talked now abo%t the
abs%rdity, in the middle of a time when we have a +,-.> trillion national debt, of giving ta'
breaks to eole who do not need it. Senator Brown and ! have talked abo%t the dangers inherent
in this ayroll ta' holiday and what it might mean for the f%t%re of So"ial Se"%rity. 3%t ! also
wanted to make another oint) that is, that there are many billions of
dollars in this roosal going to a variety of b%siness ta' "%ts. Some of them, in fa"t, might
work) some of them, in fa"t, might not work. 3%t what is very "lear is, if yo%r goal is to "reate as
many $obs as ossible for every dollar of investment, this arti"%lar aroa"h is not very
effe"tive.
0hen we talk abo%t ta' breaks for "ororations and "omanies, what we sho%ld be aware of is
that "ororate Ameri"a today//today//is sitting on "lose to +: trillion in "ash. 7hey have that "ash
on hand. 7he roblem is not that they do not have the money, the roblem is that working eole
do not have the money to b%y the rod%"ts these g%ys are rod%"ing. ! believe, and not $%st me
b%t ! think a variety of e"onomists from a"ross the board, it makes a lot more sense if we are
serio%s abo%t "reating $obs to invest in o%r infrastr%"t%re.
! say that for a n%mber of reasons. 0hen yo% %t money into roads and bridges and %bli"
transortation, yo% are "reating, for every dollar yo% send, far more $obs than giving a variety of
ta' breaks. 7hat is an e"onomi" fa"t.
Se"ond of all, when yo% are investing in o%r infrastr%"t%re, not only are yo% "reating $obs short
term, yo% are leaving the "o%ntry with long/term imrovement that in"reases o%r
"ometitiveness in a very to%gh global e"onomy. ! mentioned a moment ago, and we will get
ba"k to it later, 2hina is investing h%ge amo%nts of money into high/seed rail, into their roads,
into their bridges. (et if yo% drive aro%nd "ertain arts of Ameri"a, yo% think we are a 7hird
0orld nation. (o% have roads with all kinds of otholes. (o% have bridges whi"h yo% "annot go
a"ross. (o% have rail systems where trains are going slower//there is a st%dy o%t there that ! am
going to get to later//where somebody said that de"ades and de"ades ago, it took less time to go
from vario%s arts of this "o%ntry to the other on trains than it does today be"a%se o%r rail beds
are in s%"h bad shae.
So if we are going to make o%r "o%ntry "ometitive, we have to invest in infrastr%"t%re. !t
"reates $obs. !t adds long/term val%e to this "o%ntry. Bnfort%nately, in this agreement, there is, to
the best of my knowledge, not one ni"kel going into infrastr%"t%re. !t is imortant that we, in
fa"t, add rovisions whi"h do invest in o%r infrastr%"t%re and "reate $obs.
Another oint that sho%ld be made when we look at this so/"alled "omromise agreement
established by the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi is that in the agreement there is an
e'tension of %nemloyment benefits for ,- months. Now, there is Dero 1%estion, in my mind)
that is something that absol%tely has to be done. Right now//Senator Brown made this oint//we
have millions of Ameri"ans who have, thro%gh no fa%lt of their own, lost their $obs. Maybe their
lants went to 2hina. Maybe their "omanies "o%ld not get the loans they needed to stay in
b%siness. Small b%sinesses are going %nder, big b%sinesses are sh%tting lants. No 1%estion we
have to e'tend %nemloyment benefits.
3%t what bothers me is that this rovision in this agreement, whi"h is a good rovision,
s%ggests that this is a hard/won "omromise) that the Re%bli"ans "on"eded something and they
agreed to a ,-/month e'tension of %nemloyment benefits. 3%t here is the fa"t. 7he fa"t is, for
the last 5= years, when %nemloyment rates have gone above >.: er"ent, Re%bli"ans and
Demo"rats, in a nonartisan way, have "ome together to say, of "o%rse, we are going to e'tend
%nemloyment. 7his is Ameri"a. 0e are not going to let working families who are s%ffering hard
times be"a%se, thro%gh no fa%lt of their own, they have lost their $obs, we are not going to let
them lose their homes or not enable them to feed their families. 7his is Ameri"a. 0e are not
going to do that.
Re%bli"ans have said that for 5= years. Demo"rats have said that for 5= years. Demo"rati" and
Re%bli"an Presidents, leaders in the 6o%se and Senate, have said that. So to say8 &h, my
goodness, the Re%bli"ans made a ma$or "on"ession) they are going to allow the e'tension of
%nemloyment benefits for ,- months, that is not a "on"ession. 7hat has been biartisan %bli"
oli"y for the last 5= years.
Now, ! have been e'ressing to yo% and to the Ameri"an eole why ! think this is not a good
agreement,
why ! think this agreement sho%ld be defeated and why ! believe we "an %t together a m%"h
better agreement.
! do want to be "lear. 7here are ositive ase"ts to this agreement whi"h sho%ld be maintained
in an imroved roosal. *et me mention some of them. 7his roosal, in addition to e'tending
%nemloyment benefits for ,- months, e'tends the middle/"lass ta' "%ts. 7hat is obvio%sly
something we have to do. 7he reality is that the middle "lass is "ollasing. D%ring the 3%sh years
we saw a +:,:== de"line er year in median family in"ome. 0orking families are h%rting. 7here
is no 1%estion. 7o not e'tend that ta' "%t for @. er"ent of Ameri"a wo%ld be a travesty. So we
have to maintain those ta' "%ts, and that is a ositive thing in the agreement whi"h obvio%sly any
f%t%re agreement m%st maintain.
Also in this agreement is the earned/in"ome ta' "redit for working Ameri"ans, a very
imortant rovision, and the "hild and "ollege ta' "redits are also in this agreement. 7hese
roosals will kee millions of Ameri"ans from sliing o%t of the middle "lass and into overty,
and they will allow millions of Ameri"ans to send their kids to "ollege. ! am not here to say to
the President or the Vi"e President that there are not any good roosals and arts of this
agreement. 7here are. 3%t we "an do m%"h better.
0hat the President says//and he makes a valid oint//show me the votes) he is good at
"o%nting. 0e tried a roosal here, where we only got ?- votes, whi"h said we are going to
e'tend the ta' breaks for the middle "lass and not the very ri"h. 7he President knows, as
everybody else knows, that aro%nd here Re%bli"ans filib%ster everything. 0e need A= votes,
and he said8 Show me the votes. 7his is what ! wo%ld say8 0hat o%r $ob right now is abo%t is
rea"hing o%t to the Ameri"an eole from one end of the "o%ntry to the other, from 2alifornia to
Vermont, in"l%ding a lot of o%r very "onservative States. #rankly, it is not a "onservative
aroa"h to s%bstantially in"rease the national debt by giving ta' breaks to billionaires. 6ow
many times have we been here on the floor hearing o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es give long
see"hes abo%t the danger and the %ns%stainability of a +,-.> trillion national debt and a +,.5
trillion defi"itC 0e have heard it day after day. 7hat is their mantra. !f they believe that, why are
they voting for a roosal that s%bstantially in"reases the national debt for the very %nrod%"tive
reason of giving ta' breaks to the ri"hest eole who don4t need itC
7he reason we have to defeat this roosal and fight for a m%"h better one is, ! wo%ld hoe that
eole thro%gho%t this "o%ntry, from Vermont and 2olorado, and many of o%r "onservative
States, wo%ld "ome forward and say8 0ait a se"ond. ! do not want to see my kids and
grand"hildren ay more in ta'es be"a%se we have borrowed money from 2hina to in"rease the
national debt in order to give ta' breaks to millionaires and billionaires who have done
e'traordinarily well in re"ent years and, by the way, have seen a signifi"ant de"line in their
effe"tive ta' rate.
! know the 2hair has heard wealthy eole s%"h as 0arren 3%ffett make the oint over and
over again that what he really ays in ta'es, his effe"tive ta' rate, is lower than his se"retary4s.
All over this "o%ntry we have e'amles where very ri"h eole are able to stash money in the
2ayman !slands, take advantage of all tyes of looholes, and are aying rather low effe"tive ta'
rates, in many "ases lower than oli"e offi"ers or firemen or tea"hers or n%rses. &osition to
this agreement sho%ld be triartisan. 0e sho%ld have "onservative Re%bli"ans, liberal
Demo"rats.
! am an indeendent rogressive. ! "an tell my "olleag%es in the last - days my offi"e has
re"eived robably "lose to -,=== hone "alls, @. er"ent of them against this agreement,
robably higher than @. er"ent, and a h%ge n%mber of e/mails also overwhelmingly against this
agreement. ! s%se"t//! don4t know it for a fa"t//that this is the kind of message the Ameri"an
eole are sending %s all over Ameri"a. 3%t they have to "ontin%e to do so. 7hey have to make it
"lear so we "an win over at least a handf%l of Re%bli"ans and some wavering Demo"rats and
say8 0ait a se"ond. 0e are not going to hold hostage e'tending middle/"lass ta' breaks in order
to give ta' breaks to billionaires. 0e will not hold hostage e'tending %nemloyment for workers
who have lost their $obs by giving ta' breaks to eole who don4t need it.
!f the Ameri"an eole give voi"e to what they are feeling, that this is not a good agreement,
that we "an do a lot better, ! think we "an defeat this roosal, and we "an "ome ba"k with a
m%"h better roosal whi"h rote"ts the %nemloyed, e'tends %nemloyment benefits, rote"ts
the middle "lass, e'tends the 3%sh ta' "%ts for @. er"ent of the o%lation, and rote"ts a lot of
imortant rograms, making "ollege more affordable, making "hild"are more affordable, and
heling %s transform o%r energy system.
7here is a lot we "an do if we defeat this roosal. 0e are not going to do it inside the beltway.
Re%bli"ans are very %nited. 3%t what we have to do is win at least a handf%l of them and some
wavering Demo"rats to say8 Mr. President, Re%bli"an leadershi, yo% g%ys have to involve
2ongress in this dis"%ssion.
! was leased yesterday that the Demo"rati" "a%"%s said8 Sorry, we are not bringing that
roosal onto the floor. ! ala%d Seaker Pelosi and the Demo"rati" "a%"%s for saying so. 7hat
took "o%rage. 2ongressman Welch from the State of Vermont layed an imortant role.
2ongressman Peter DeFazio layed an imortant role. ! "ongrat%late him. ! "ongrat%late the
"a%"%s for saying we "an do better than we are doing.
*et me be frank8 0e are not going to do better %nless the Ameri"an eole stand % and hel
%s. 0e are going to need a lot of hone "alls, a lot of e/mails, a lot of messages so that all of o%r
"olleag%es in the 6o%se and Senate %nderstand the Ameri"an eole do not want to see their kids
having to ay off the debt in"%rred by giving ta' breaks to billionaires.
7his agreement doesn4t "ome o%t of the bl%e. !t "omes within a "onte't that frightens many
eole. Many Ameri"ans have a sinking feeling that there is something very wrong in o%r
"o%ntry today. ! know my father "ame to this "o%ntry at the age of ,> witho%t a enny in his
o"ket. 6e be"ame the ro%dest Ameri"an one "o%ld ever see. 6e didn4t have m%"h of an
ed%"ation, b%t he knew this "o%ntry gave him a great oort%nity. 7hat is the Ameri"an story.
7hat is what it is all abo%t. 7o millions and millions of families, whether they "ame from other
"o%ntries, whether they $%st made it on their own//! know we have heard the ma$ority leader
Harry Reid talking abo%t his e'erien"e growing % in a deserately oor family//that is what
Ameri"a is abo%t. 3%t there are a lot of folks o%t there who believe there is something wrong,
and the fa"ts ba"k them %.
0hat is going on in this "o%ntry is the middle "lass is "ollasing. Poverty is in"reasing. ! have
fo%r kids and si' grand"hildren. ! am not worried abo%t me, b%t ! am worried abo%t what
haens to my kids and my grand"hildren. 0e have some wonderf%l yo%ng ages here, and we
worry abo%t their f%t%res as well. 0e don4t want to see o%r kids and grand"hildren be the first
generation in the modern history of Ameri"a to have a lower standard of living than their arents.
0e don4t want to see this "o%ntry4s e"onomy move in the wrong way. 0e don4t want a ra"e to the
bottom. 0e want to see o%r kids live healthier and better lives than we do, not have to work
longer ho%rs, not getting a lower 1%ality of ed%"ation or less ed%"ation. 7hat is not the history of
this great "o%ntry.
! want to talk abo%t one ase"t of what is going on that does not get the kind of attention it
deserves. 7here are obvio%s reasons why, having to do with who owns the media and "ororate
"ontrol of the media, having to do with who rovides the "amaign "ontrib%tions that ele"t
Members of the 6o%se and Senate, having to do with all the lobbyists who s%rro%nd this
instit%tion. 0all Street and the oil "omanies send h%ndreds of millions of dollars on "amaign
"ontrib%tions. 7he iss%e ! wish to dis"%ss is who is winning and who is losing in this e"onomy. !
"ome from New England. Everybody follows the 2elti"s. 0e follow the Red So', the Patriots.
0hat everyone asks is, who won the gameC Did the Patriots win or loseC 7hat is what we want to
know.
!n fa"t, in Ameri"a, it is retty "lear in the e"onomy who is winning and losing. 7he vast
ma$ority of eole, working eole, middle/"lass eole, low/in"ome eole are losing. 7hat is
who is losing. !t is "lear who is winning. 7he wealthiest eole are doing henomenally well.
7hey are winning the e"onomi" str%ggle.
!n Ameri"a today//we don4t talk abo%t this too m%"h, b%t it is time we did//we have the most
%ne1%al distrib%tion of wealth and in"ome in the ind%strialiDed world. ! haven4t heard too many
eole talk abo%t that iss%e. 0hy notC &%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es want h%ge ta' breaks for the
ri"hest eole, b%t the reality is the to , er"ent already today owns more wealth than the
bottom @= er"ent. 6ow m%"h more do they wantC 0hen is eno%gh eno%ghC Do they want it allC
0e already have millions of families today who have Dero wealth. 7hey owe more than they
own. Millions of families have below Dero wealth. 0e are living in a sit%ation where the to ,
er"ent owns more wealth than the bottom @= er"ent. 7he to , er"ent owns more wealth than
the bottom @= er"ent. 7hat is simly %na""etable.
7his is something we m%st be absol%tely ashamed abo%t and have to address, instead of giving
ta' breaks to billionaires. Maybe we sho%ld are"iate the fa"t that abo%t :? er"ent of o%r
"hildren are deendent on food stams. 0e sho%ld %nderstand that in the ind%strialiDed world,
the Bnited States, as this "hart shows, has the highest rate of "hildhood overty. !s this Ameri"aC
!s this Ameri"aC 7he Bnited States today has over := er"ent of its kids living in overty. !n
#inland, the n%mber is abo%t : or - er"ent) Norway, maybe 5 er"ent) Sweden, maybe 5.?
er"ent) SwitDerland, A er"ent, whatever it may be. 3%t here we are. !f eole are wat"hing on
television, what they are seeing is the red line. 6ere is the Bnited States, well over := er"ent.
6ere is the Netherlands in se"ond la"e. !t looks to me like abo%t > er"ent. 7his is the f%t%re of
Ameri"a. So we are sitting here talking abo%t an agreement whi"h says8 *et4s give h%ge ta'
breaks to billionaires. And here is the reality. 0e have a rate of "hildhood overty far s%rassing
any other "o%ntry on Earth.
7his is the other half of the e1%ation. 0hat do my "olleag%es think haens when we have
millions of kids living in overtyC 0hat do my "olleag%es think haens when we have kids who
are droing o%t of s"hool when they are ,- or ,5C ! talked to a fellow in Vermont who r%ns one
of o%r $ails. 6e said abo%t half the kids who dro o%t of s"hool end % in the enal system. 7hat
is what haens. 7he res%lt is, the highest rate of "hildhood overty in the ind%strialiDed world,
and then what we end % with is more eole behind bars than any other "o%ntry on Earth.
2hina is a 2omm%nist totalitarian so"iety, m%"h larger than the Bnited States, whi"h is a
demo"rati" so"iety. 0e have more eole in $ail than 2hina and more eole in $ail than any
other "o%ntry. So what we end % doing, whi"h seems to be not terribly bright, is sending
erhas +?=,=== a year keeing eole in $ail be"a%se they droed o%t of s"hool. 7hey never
fo%nd a $ob. 7hey got hooked on dr%gs or whatever. 0e ay to %t them in $ail rather than
investing in "hild"are, in ed%"ation, in s%staining their families.
So when we look at the "onte't in whi"h this agreement was rea"hed, we have to see that it
takes la"e at a time when the ri"h are already doing henomenally well, while we have the
highest rate of "hildhood overty in the ind%strialiDed world.
D%ring the . years of President 3%sh, the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans//that is not a lot of eole,
5== families//saw their in"ome more than do%ble while their in"ome ta' rates droed almost in
half. So yo% have 5== families//all of whom are already m%lti/m%ltimillionaires//where d%ring
the . years of President 3%sh their in"ome more than do%bled while their in"ome ta' rates
droed almost in half.
! wo%ld say to my "olleag%es in the Senate, we do not have to worry abo%t these g%ys. 7hey
are doing $%st fine. 7hey do not need an e'tension of ta' breaks. 7he wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans
now earn, on average, +-5? million a year, and they ay an effe"tive ta' rate of ,A.A er"ent.
6ow is thatC All right. 7he to 5== wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry earn +-5? million a year,
and they ay an effe"tive ta' rate of ,A.A er"ent. 7hey do not need an e'tension of ta' breaks.
3y the way, for the Bnited States of Ameri"a, this effe"tive ta' rate of ,A.A er"ent, on
average, is the lowest ta' rate for the very ri"h in Ameri"a that there has ever been. So we have
already given the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry the lowest effe"tive ta' rates in the history of
o%r "o%ntry, at least sin"e they have been keeing re"ords. 7hat is what we have done. So the
idea of giving these g%ys//who are doing henomenally well, who already own more wealth than
the bottom @= er"ent//more ta' breaks is totally abs%rd.
Bnder the . years of President 3%sh, the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans//we talked abo%t how they
do%bled their in"omes) in"ome is what haens in , year//%nder the . years of President 3%sh,
the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans in"reased their wealth by more than +-.= billion. #o%r h%ndred
families in"reased their wealth by +-.= billion. 7hat averages to almost +, billion a family. Mr.
President, +, billion in . years. 7hat is the average) some, obvio%sly, more.
2olle"tively//! know this is not an iss%e we talk abo%t too m%"h//the 5== ri"hest Ameri"ans
have a""%m%lated +,.:> trillion in wealth. !f any of them die this year, their heirs "an re"eive,
right now, all of this money ta' free be"a%se the inheritan"e ta' has been eliminated in :=,= as
art of the 3%sh estate ta' reeal this year.
*ast year, the to :? hedge f%nd managers made a "ombined +:? billion in in"ome//a
"ombined +, billion er erson. &F. So if yo% are a hedge f%nd manager, yo% are doing retty
good. ! mentioned a moment ago that we tried $%st the other day to get "he"ks of +:?= o%t for
disabled vets and senior "itiDens on So"ial Se"%rity who have not had a 2&*A in : years. 0e
"o%ld not get them that "he"k. 3%t last year the to :? hedge f%nd managers made a "ombined
+:? billion in in"ome//+, billion er erson. And o%r Re%bli"an friends say8 &h, my word, my
word, we have to lower their ta'es. *ast year, E''onMobil, 3ank of Ameri"a, and other large
rofitable "ororations aid no #ederal in"ome ta'es.
So what yo% have is a ta' system whi"h is totally distorted in the sense that it allows large
rofitable "ororations to ay, in some "ases//in many "ases//Dero. !n fa"t, last year//it wo%ld be
f%nny if it really was not atheti"//as ! %nderstand it, E''onMobil, whi"h made +,@ billion, aid
nothing in ta'es. 3ank of Ameri"a//3ank of Ameri"a got a h%ge bailo%t from the Ameri"an
ta'ayer, aying their e'e"%tives all kinds of fan"y, h%ge "omensation a"kages//got a ref%nd
"he"k from the !RS. 7hat is how abs%rd the sit%ation is. And eole say8 &h, my word, in order
to deal with o%r defi"it, we are going to have to "%t ba"k on Medi"are and Medi"aid and
ed%"ation. 0e "annot afford it. ! g%ess we "an afford to allow E''onMobil, the most rofitable
"ororation in the history of the world, to make h%ge s%ms of money and ay nothing in ta'es.
0e "an afford to do that, b%t we "annot afford to rote"t working families and the middle "lass.
!n the year :==?, one o%t of every fo%r large "ororations in the Bnited States aid no #ederal
in"ome ta' on reven%e of +,., trillion. Now, what do yo% thinkC Maybe before we start "%tting
So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are and Medi"aid and veterans rograms, we wo%ld want to ask some
of these very large and rofitable "ororations to ay at least something in ta'esC #rom ,@@. to
:==?, two o%t of every three "ororations in the Bnited States aid no #ederal in"ome ta'es,
a""ording to the 9A& reort.
Sadly, the e"onomi" ain millions of eole are e'erien"ing did not even begin as a res%lt of
the 0all Street bailo%t. 7he middle "lass was "ollasing long before that. !t is wrong to blame
3%sh for all the roblems. 6e "ontrib%ted a lot to it b%t not all of it. 7hat trend has been going on
for many years.
As the 0ashington Post reorted last Gan%ary//let me 1%ote from an arti"le be"a%se, again, !
want to %t the e"onomi" reality fa"ing the middle "lass in "ontrast to the e"onomi" reality fa"ing
the very ri"h in the broad "onte't of this agreement signed by the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi. As the 0ashington Post reorted last Gan%ary8
7he ast de"ade//
7he 3%sh . years l%s : years//
was the worst for the B.S. e"onomy in modern times. .....
!t was, a""ording to a wide range of data, a lost de"ade for Ameri"an workers.
EEA lost de"ade for Ameri"an workers.44 Do yo% know why eole are f%rio%sC Do yo% know
why they are angry at 0ashington and everybody elseC 7he last de"ade was, a""ording to the
0ashington Post, a lost de"ade for Ameri"an workers.
7here has been Dero net $ob "reation sin"e De"ember ,@@@.
7welve years of Dero $ob "reation, whi"h is why %nemloyment is so high, not only for the
general o%lation b%t even worse for o%r yo%ng eole, kids getting o%t of high s"hool, yo%ng
eole grad%ating "ollege.
A""ording to the 0ashington Post//this "ame from the 0ashington Post in Gan%ary8
Middle/in"ome ho%seholds made less in :==., when ad$%sted for inflation, than they did in
,@@@. .....
!n other words, the Ameri"an e"onomy has t%rned into a nightmare for tens of millions of
families. !magine that.
Middle/in"ome ho%seholds made less in :==., when ad$%sted for inflation, than they did in
,@@@//and the n%mber is s%re to have de"lined f%rther d%ring a diffi"%lt :==@.
7hey did not have those n%mbers, b%t be"a%se of the 0all Street "ollase, that "ertainly is the
"ase.
So what are we talking abo%tC 0e are talking abo%t, as ! have $%st demonstrated, the eole on
to seeing a do%bling of their in"ome, while their effe"tive ta' rates are going down. (o% are
seeing the middle "lass "ollasing.
0hat this agreement says is that we are going to rovide h%ge ta' breaks for millionaires and
billionaires. 7hat is insane. &nly within the beltway "o%ld an agreement s%"h as that be
negotiated.
As ! mentioned earlier, in the last - days, we have re"eived tho%sands and tho%sands and
tho%sands of hone "alls and e/mails to my offi"e, and over @. er"ent//! daresay @@ er"ent//
say this is not a good agreement, do not s%ort it.
Mr. President, ! have been $oined on the floor by the very disting%ished Senator from the State
of *o%isiana. ! ask %nanimo%s "onsent that ! be ermitted to enter into a "ollo1%y with Senator
Landrieu.
7he PRES!D!N9 &##!2ER. !s there ob$e"tionC
0itho%t ob$e"tion, it is so ordered.
Mr. SANDERS. ! thank Senator Landrieu very m%"h for $oining %s here. ! wondered if the
Senator "o%ld give the Ameri"an eole her tho%ghts abo%t this agreement and what has been
going on.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. Mr. President, ! thank the Senator from Vermont for his elo1%ent and
assionate resentation for ho%rs this morning. 6e "learly has resented to this 2hamber and to
the Ameri"an eole some stark realities that are %nleasant. Some eole might even find them
hard to believe. 3%t he has done his homework. 6e has do"%mented what he said. !n that
ba"kdro, it does make this agreement, made between the Re%bli"an leadershi and the
President of the Bnited States, even harder for some of %s to %nderstand.
! want to a"knowledge, as the Senator said//! know there are ress%res on all sides, and time is
r%nning o%t) we have to make a de"ision abo%t ta' "%ts in a short eriod of time. 0e do not have
the benefit of several months or even half a year. ! %nderstand the ress%res of time. 3%t as the
Senator from Vermont ointed o%t, how abo%t the ress%res on the middle "lassC 0hat abo%t
these ress%resC 0hat abo%t this ainC
! was wondering, be"a%se ! wanted to ask the Senator from Vermont//! was not able to follow
his entire resentation this morning//did he 1%ote from the reort EE!n"ome !ne1%ality and the
9reat Re"ession,44 done by the B.S. 2ongress Goint E"onomi" 2ommittee, led by Charles
SchumerC ! ask the Senator, did yo% 1%ote from this reortC
Mr. SANDERS. 0e 1%oted from a n%mber of st%dies, b%t not that one, ! say to the Senator.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. ! wo%ld like to add in o%r "ollo1%y, if the Senator is aware, a""ording to this
reort that $%st "ame o%t in Setember of this year8
!n"ome ine1%ality has skyro"keted. E"onomists "on"%r that in"ome ine1%ality has risen
dramati"ally over the ast three de"ades.
Middle/"lass in"omes stagnated %nder President 3%sh. D%ring the re"overy of the ,@@=s %nder
President 2linton, middle/"lass in"omes grew at a healthy a"e. 6owever, d%ring the $obless
re"overy of the :===s %nder President 3%sh, that trend reversed "o%rse. Middle/"lass in"omes
"ontin%ed to fall well into the re"overy, and never regained their :==, high.
7he reort goes on to say//whi"h is frightening, whi"h is why ! have been raising my voi"e in
oosition so strongly to some arts of this a"kage//
6igh levels of in"ome ine1%ality may re"iitate e"onomi" "rises.
!n other words, if the middle "lass "annot see light at the end of the t%nnel and if the e"onomy
itself "annot gras a way for the middle "lass to grow, ! say to the Senator, this re"ession may
never end no matter how m%"h money yo% give to the very wealthy.
7his is the reality we are fa"ing at this moment//how to end this re"ession.
Re%bli"ans weren4t "omletely to blame for it, Demo"rats weren4t "omletely inno"ent, or
vi"e versa. !t is not abo%t who to blame, it is abo%t how to fi' it. 0e are abo%t to i"k % a +@.=
billion hammer ne't week in an attemt to fi' it. Are we hitting the nail rightC 0e don4t have
many +@.= billion hammers to i"k %. 0e are borrowing this one. So let4s get it right. 7his is an
imortant iss%e before o%r "o%ntry. ! think that is what the Senator is saying.
Am ! %tting words into the Senator4s mo%thC !s this what the Senator is trying to e'lainC
Mr. SANDERS. E'a"tly. 7he oint "annot be %nderstated. 0hat Senator Landrieu is saying is
that if yo% have a "ollasing middle "lass and eole are %nable to %r"hase anything, it ima"ts
the entire e"onomy. 7he e"onomy "an4t grow. 0e "an4t grow $obs if eole don4t have eno%gh
money to b%y rod%"ts made by other eole. !f all or a s%bstantial art of the wealth in this
Nation a""r%es in the hands of a few, they get three ya"hts and eight airlanes, ! g%ess, b%t there
is a limit to what they "an %r"hase.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. And there is a limit to what they "an "ons%me.
0hat the Senator from Vermont is saying and what ! am saying//! want to be very "lear,
be"a%se the Senator and ! don4t agree on every ie"e of legislation. 6e tends to be a little bit
more liberal and rogressive in his oliti"s than ! am, b%t on this s%b$e"t we are both e1%ally
"on"erned abo%t the shrinking of the middle "lass. #rom my erse"tive//the Senator may have a
different view//! am talking abo%t the broad middle "lass8 in"omes of +?=,=== to +?==,===. !n
my State, +?==,=== of in"ome//not net worth b%t in"ome//is a h%ge amo%nt of money. !n fa"t, !
bro%ght a grah to show that .5 er"ent of the ho%seholds in *o%isiana//when ! talk abo%t
middle "lass//.5 er"ent of the ho%seholds in *o%isiana make less than +>?,===. ! said .5
er"ent. Most eole in *o%isiana//most//believe they are in the middle "lass, b%t .5 er"ent
make below +>?,===.
So when ! %se the term middle "lass//and we all have a different view//! am saying the broad
middle "lass with in"omes between +?=,=== and +?==,===. !f yo% have +?==,=== in in"ome, yo%
are 1%ite wealthy in *o%isiana, b%t ! realiDe we are not New (ork, 2onne"ti"%t, or 2alifornia.
Maybe if yo% make +?==,=== or +5==,=== in some of these la"es, yo% don4t "onsider yo%rself
very wealthy or ri"h. ! think by *o%isiana standards yo% wo%ld be, b%t this is a big nation. So !
want to be as broad as ! "an ossibly be here. ! am not talking abo%t the wealthy being +5==,===
or +?==,===. 7hat may not be the "ase in 2alifornia. 3%t what we are talking abo%t in this ta' bill
is borrowing +?= billion to give ta' breaks to families earning over +, million. So as the Senator
from Vermont said, whether yo% %t yo%r mark at +:?=,=== or +?==,===//we "an disagree abo%t
how broad the middle "lass is, b%t is there anyone//anyone//anyone in this 2hamber on either
side of the aisle from any State who believes serio%sly, giving what the Senator from Vermont
$%st o%tlined//whi"h is really not debatable) these e"onomi" st%dies are not $%st from one side of
the aisle or another//that we sho%ld a"t%ally ne't week rovide +?= billion in e'tended benefits
for the families in Ameri"a who are making more than +, million a yearC Sho%ld we do that
when the ine1%ities are so great, when the needs of the middle "lass are so great, when there is
no eviden"e to s%ggest from any ! have seen that is "onvin"ing that even after this ta' "%t the
re"ession will endC 0e are doing this for : years. 0hat haens if the re"ession doesn4t end and
we have borrowed all of this money to rovide the e'tension of these ta' "%ts, as well as giving
+?= billion to the +, million earners in this "o%ntryC 0hat do we do thenC 9o borrow another
trillion and try it againC ! think we have to try something different.
! don4t know if the Senator has another oint before ! go into a few tho%ghts.
Mr. SANDERS. *et me ask the Senator//and ! thank her very m%"h and ! agree with what she
has been saying. ! was mentioning earlier the "alls "oming in and the e/mails "oming into my
offi"e are overwhelming8 @@ er"ent against this. Are yo% getting similar "allsC
Ms. *ANDR!EB. ! am getting "alls, and ! am getting abo%t ?= er"ent for and ?= er"ent
against. 7he State of *o%isiana is a little different than the State of Vermont. Many of the "alls
"oming in from aro%nd the "o%ntry are against giving//well, a"t%ally, let me say this8 Most of the
"alls "oming in are absol%tely against giving ta' "%ts to eole over +, million.
Mr. SANDERS. 7hat is what ! am talking abo%t.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. &verwhelmingly, eole are "alling in and saying, !s that really haeningC
!n fa"t, my offi"e told me today that a"t%ally ,= eole "alled who had in"omes over +, million,
whi"h ! fo%nd very interesting, to say they s%orted my osition8 7ell Senator Landrieu ! make
+, million a year and ! agree with her. So ! know eole are listening. ! thank those "allers. 7hey
make +, million every year and they said, Please, %se the money for somebody else or something
else. ! am doing fine. ! am "o%nting my blessings. ! s%rvived the re"ession. 7hey know that
--,=== eole are getting ready to r%n o%t of %nemloyment benefits in *o%isiana alone if we
don4t e'tend it. 7hey know middle/"lass families making over +>?,=== in in"ome or +:==,=== in
in"ome or even +?==,===//yo% "an have +-==,=== of in"ome in *o%isiana and be a strong
b%siness erson and doing very well, and have eight "hildren. 7he Presiding &ffi"er has large
families o%t in the 0est. 0e have very large families in the So%th. No one ever gives %s "redit
eno%gh, ! think, for that. Peole work very hard, a mother and a father. 7heir in"ome might be
+:==,===, +:?=,===, b%t with si' "hildren, that doesn4t go that far these days. ! grew % in a
neighborhood where we ro%tinely had ,: "hildren in a ho%se. 6ow m%"h money do yo% think
yo% have to make to feed and "lothe and send to "ollege ,: "hildrenC My father sent nine of %s to
"ollege. 0e never made anywhere near that money. ! still think it was a mira"le any of %s ever
got there.
3%t, nonetheless, the iss%e is ne't week we are going to debate this agreement. ! wish to say !
s%ort e'tending ta' "%ts to the middle "lass, to the broad middle "lass. 3%t there is something
terribly wrong here in Denmark. Something is not right in Denmark if we are sending or
borrowing +?= billion, whi"h is abo%t what it "osts to e'tend in"ome ta' rates, the lower rate and
the dividend rates, and the "aital gains rates to eole making over +, million.
Someone on the radio today said, 0ell, Senator, don4t yo% think giving ta' "%ts will stim%late
the e"onomyC ! said, No. ! am not an e"onomist, b%t every e"onomist ! have read on this ta'
a"kage says that is one of the least stim%lative//am ! "orre"t, Senator//one of the least
stim%lative rovisions of the bill.
! want to know ne't week, when we are debating this, ! wo%ld like at least one Re%bli"an//
$%st one//it "o%ld be the minority leader Mitch McConnell, it "o%ld be the b%dget "hairman udd
!re"", it "o%ld be $%st one Re%bli"an//to give a assionate arg%ment for why they insisted this
be in the a"kage. ! wo%ld like to listen to it. ! wo%ld like to hear it with my own ears. 0hat was
it abo%t it that they tho%ght was so imortant that they had to have it in the a"kageC 3e"a%se !
know, as angry as ! am with the President right now abo%t some matters, ! know the President
did not insist this be in the a"kage. ! know eno%gh abo%t him to know that he didn4t "all
everybody in the room and say, &h, we forgot something. *et4s make s%re this ta' e'tension
in"l%des eole making over +, million. ! know he didn4t give that see"h. ! want to know who
did. 0ho did give it, be"a%se yo%r "onstit%ents sho%ld know abo%t it. And the Ameri"an eole
have a right to know. 7hat is one thing abo%t o%r demo"ra"y, it is oen. !t "o%ld be more oen.
0e "o%ld be like 3ritain where they all stand % and talk at one another in one of the rooms. !t is
very interesting. ! find it very interesting to wat"h sometimes. 0e don4t do that, b%t at least if the
eole of 3ritain want to know what their eole are saying, they "an hear them.
Somebody said this. ! wo%ld like to know who, and where, and when. 0as it in the &val
&ffi"eC 0as it in the "loakroomC 3e"a%se ! am going to be for"ed to vote//be"a%se now, ! think
the Senator %nderstands, we aren4t going to have any amendments, so ! am going to be for"ed to
vote and have to "hoose, whi"h is going to be a very to%gh "hoi"e, between e'tending ta' "%ts
for .5 er"ent of the eole in my State who make less than +>?,===//whi"h of "o%rse ! want to
do. Even tho%gh we have to borrow the money to do it, we "an4t not do it. 7he e"onomi"
"ir"%mstan"es are s%"h that we have to do it. 3%t now, in order to get them hel, ! have to say
yes to something that ! have talked abo%t//and ! want to be serio%s abo%t this) ! am very serio%s
abo%t it//that, for me, borders on moral re"klessness.
! have been "riti"iDed on both sides of this debate. 6ow "an yo% %se words like thisC ! don4t
know. ! went to 2atholi" s"hool. 0e went to mass almost every week. Every week the riest
wo%ld say, Don4t take more than yo% need. Don4t be greedy. Share with others. Did ! go to the
wrong s"hoolC So ! wo%ld like to know. Maybe those lessons were missed on the other side. !
don4t normally seak like this. ! have been "riti"iDed for it. ! am very, very torn, be"a%se ! like to
be art of a team.
! %nderstand, ! say to the Senator from Vermont, that we "an4t have every a"kage e'a"tly the
way we believe. ! %nderstand that. ! have had to vote for some things that were hard for me to
stoma"h, and ! have done it be"a%se there were other good things in the bill. 7hat is the way the
ro"ess works. 3%t ! a"t%ally "annot remember a time on either an aroriations bill of this
magnit%de or a ta' bill of this magnit%de that we have been asked to "ast a vote for something
that on its fa"e is so re"kless, so %nne"essary, so sort of in yo%r fa"e to the oor, in yo%r fa"e to
the middle "lass. 0e are going to take o%r money. Don4t yo% say a word abo%t it.
0ho said thatC Did 0arren 3%ffett "ome down here and ask for itC Did 3oone Pi"kens "ome
down here and ask for itC Did the 9ateses "ome down here and ask for itC 0ho asked for itC
0hy do yo% think yo% deserve it, and what Senator %t their name on itC
! have a few more things to say. ! don4t want to kee the Senator from Vermont tied %.
Mr. SANDERS. I%ite the "ontrary. 7he Senator from *o%isiana is making some very
imortant oints. ! are"iate it and ! look forward to hearing what she has to say.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. 7hank yo%. ! wish to say a few other things abo%t this whole sit%ation,
be"a%se the Senator from Vermont and ! agree on some things and arts of this//obvio%sly this
art//b%t we had a big differen"e. ! wanted to show this from my erse"tive.
! voted for the original ta' "%ts. ! am not s%re the Senator from Vermont did. 7here were very
good reasons on both sides. ! wish to take a min%te, be"a%se ! have, as ! said, "riti"s on both
sides, and ! want to e'lain//not e'lain, b%t share some tho%ghts abo%t that and make
something very "lear.
! was one of ,: Demo"rats//there are only > of %s left//in the 2hamber today who voted for the
3%sh ta' "%ts. 0e were for the middle "lass and the oor and the wealthy. Everybody got
in"ome ta' relief, "aital gains ta' relief, dividend ta' relief. Senator Lincoln and ! and others
worked very hard to make s%re that in that a"kage//even tho%gh ! wo%ld have designed it
differently if ! "o%ld have done it myself, b%t there are no "Dars aro%nd here. 7his is a
demo"ra"y. ! %nderstand that. ! have been doing it for -= years. 0e worked hard to shae that
a"kage the best we "o%ld to dire"t it and target it to the middle "lass. 7here are many "riti"s of
that who say yo% didn4t do it well eno%gh. (o% didn4t send it to the middle "lass. (o% sent it to
the wealthy. ! disagree. ! think we did as well as we "o%ld to send it to the middle "lass, altho%gh
the higher bra"kets were lowered as well. 3%t ! will tell my "olleag%es the big differen"e was, it
was aid for when we voted for it. 7here was a +,:. billion ann%al s%rl%s. !n other words, we
were sending +,:. billion less than we were taking in. 0hat a hay time that was. 0e were
aying for o%r Pell grants. 0e were aying for ed%"ation. 0e were aying for health "are. 0e
had s%rl%ses in So"ial Se"%rity, the Senator will remember, and we had a +,:. billion s%rl%s
that year alone, and s%rl%ses as far as the eye "an see. 7his is before @H,,.
So the ,: of %s//let me seak $%st for myself//! tho%ght, what a sit%ation this is. Demo"rats had
taken the to%gh vote. Not one Re%bli"an had voted for this b%dget re"on"iliation. As the 2hair
knows, as he was then in the 6o%se and took a to%gh vote with the Demo"rats to %t %s on that
ath, the middle "lass was e'anding. Gobs were being "reated. 0e were "reating millionaires.
(es, ! love "reating more millionaires. !t is why ! got into oliti"s//one of the reasons. ! like
when eole are s%""essf%l. ! love to hear stories abo%t my "onstit%ents who "ame from oor
families, whose mothers were ho%sehold servants, whose fathers never went to high s"hool//!
love to hear abo%t smart little girls from 9ert 7own who got straight As in s"hool, went down the
street to Javier Bniversity, got their remed degree, and then went on to be"ome a do"tor, and
now they are millionaires. ! don4t de"ry that. ! "elebrate it. ! have fo%ght for them to get their
s"holarshis//not individ%ally b%t generally. !t is what ! do. !t is what Senators and 6o%se
Members do.
! am so mad at eole saying to me, as a Demo"rat, that we don4t like eole who are ri"h) that
we have something against them. Nothing "o%ld be f%rther from the tr%th.
! love the book, EE7he Millionaire Ne't Door.44 !t talks abo%t how it is a myth that most
millionaires in Ameri"a have inherited their money. 7he fa"t is, we have "reated s%"h a great
"o%ntry over :?= years. 0e have a"t%ally fo%nd the way for oor eole to go from nothing to
h%ge wealth and to "reate a life/"hanging oort%nity for their "hildren and grand"hildren. 0e
"elebrate it, write movies abo%t it, and o%r libraries are f%ll of books abo%t it. 7here is nothing
wrong with that.
So when we had a s%rl%s, ! tho%ght we sho%ld give ta' breaks and %se some of that money.
3%t, today, we are being asked to rovide ta' "%ts, when the defi"it is//! want to get this n%mber
"orre"t be"a%se it is sho"king//,= times greater than the s%rl%s) it is +,.:@5 trillion. 7hat is what
the ann%al defi"it is this year. 0hen we did the ta' "%ts, we were generating a +,:. billion
s%rl%s every year//s%rl%ses as far as the eye "o%ld see. 0e tho%ght maybe we sho%ld give a
third of this bo%nty in ta' "%ts, and we made investments in other things. 3%t, today, after what
the Senator from Vermont has des"ribed as the e"onomi" ine1%ality in the "o%ntry, when we
have no s%rl%s in sight, the biggest, largest, most fero"io%s re"ession sin"e the 9reat
Deression, and we are r%nning an ann%al defi"it of +,.:@ trillion//someone had the nerve on the
other side of the aisle to say8 0ait, before yo% "lose the deal, before yo% sh%t the door, before
yo% sto the rinting ress, lease %t in the eole in Ameri"a who make over +, million.
Now, for that +?= billion, there are lots of ways that we "o%ld save if we "o%ld "orre"t this
deal. ! don4t think we "an. 3%t if we "o%ld, as the Senator knows, do we have men and women in
the military//does he know what their 2&*A will be this yearC ! think it is only ,.5 er"ent.
Mr. SANDERS. 7hat is what my %nderstanding is. ! think a lot of the folks in the military are
very %set abo%t that.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. Every erson in %niform is only getting a 2&*A this year of ,.5 er"ent.
Did anybody over there not think abo%t this when they raised their hand to say let4s give it to
millionairesC 7hose in the military most "ertainly deserve a bon%s. 7hey are "oming ba"k
witho%t eyes or legs) they are leaving some of their limbs in !ra1 and Afghanistan. Did anybody
over there think abo%t thatC
7he senior "itiDens for whom the Senator has been s%"h an advo"ate are not seeing the kind of
2&*A they normally get. 7alk abo%t stim%l%s, ! think every dollar yo% give to a senior "itiDen//
wo%ldn4t the Senator say//gets sent right away. 7hey have to b%y food with it. 7hey are not
going o%t er%sing a ya"ht or an airlane they "o%ld or "o%ld not b%y. 7hey need to eat. 7hey go
to the "orner dr%gstore) they need to get their medi"ine. 7hey send it. (es, we give money to
the oor on the Demo"rati" side and the middle "lass be"a%se it is the right thing to do. !t
a"t%ally haens to be also the smart thing to do for the e"onomy and for $obs.
So when eole say the Senator has fli/floed on ta'es, ! don4t %nderstand how to say it
differently. ! voted for ta' "%ts when we had a s%rl%s. ! am "hallenged abo%t how to address this
a"kage//! most "ertainly want to e'tend it for the middle "lass and to e'tend hel for the
%nemloyment. Peole are %nemloyed not be"a%se they are laDy, for 6eaven4s sake. 7hey are
%nemloyed be"a%se there are no $obs for them. !t is some of the longest term %nemloyment we
have had in o%r Nation4s history.
So the other side is making %s feel//they say8 0e gave yo% the %nemloyment, so s%rely yo%
sho%ld give %s the ta' breaks for millionaires. !s that really an e1%al tradeC !f somebody believes
that a"t%ally//! have heard "ommentators say it on different networks. ! have been on these news
rograms, and they say8 (o% got the %nemloyment, so that is a fair trade.
!f there is a Senator who thinks that, ! wo%ld love them to say that ne't week. ! think that
wo%ld be great to have on the re"ord. So this sit%ation is what the *o%isiana families in my State
are fa"ing. &bvio%sly, ! wo%ld like to rovide ta' relief for these families. 0e have less than ,..
er"ent who are making over +:==,===. ! am "he"king right now to find o%t how many families
in *o%isiana a"t%ally make over +, million. ! was told it was -,:==. 7hat n%mber might be too
high. 7he Senator from 0est Virginia told me that in his State it is ?@@ eole who make over +,
million a year. (et it looks like that is the a"kage.
0e are going to be in a to%gh sit%ation, witho%t amendments, having to vote for it. ! will see
what my "onstit%ents are saying over the weekend. ! want to say one more thing abo%t this
ine1%ity and t%rn it ba"k over to the Senator from Vermont. 3esides the other things that were
%t into the Record abo%t the ine1%ality, the "hallenges before o%r "o%ntry right now, ! "ame
a"ross some data, and ! wo%ld like the Senator to be on the floor to listen to this.
Mr. SANDERS. ! am not going anywhere. (o% "an take as m%"h time as yo% want.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. ! wasn4t s%re what his time was. ! am "hair of the Small 3%siness
2ommittee. ! have many hearings, b%t ! had one in the last - months and some of the testimony
was startling to me. ! wanted to share this with the Senator.
!t is in the :=== "ens%s data. Someone was testifying abo%t why this re"ession was taking so
long to get over. 7hey were giving fig%res abo%t the stat%s of the e"onomy and the wealth or
in"omes of broad se"tions of the o%lation.
7hey said sort of off the "%ff//like, ho/h%m, today is Monday.
7hey said8 3y the way, the average net worth, the median net worth of ho%seholds in Ameri"a,
the average//median net worth//not in"ome b%t net worth//of ho%seholds is +A>,===. 7hat is very
interesting. ! tho%ght it wo%ld be higher than that. 7hat is taking what yo% own min%s everything
yo% owe, and the differen"e is yo%r net worth. ! tho%ght eole might have more than that in
terms of e1%ity in their homes, a "o%le h%ndred tho%sand. 7hat was "on"erning to me.
! said8 Do yo% have that broken down by ra"e, by any "han"eC
7hey said8 (es, ma4am.
! said8 0o%ld yo% share itC And they did. ! will share it with yo% be"a%se ! have not re"overed
from what ! heard.
7he gentlemen said to me8 0ell, for 0hite families in Ameri"a, the average median//?=
er"ent more, ?= er"ent less//is +.>,===. #or 6isani" families, it is +.,===. #or Afri"an/
Ameri"an families, it is +?,===.
! want to reeat that. #ifty er"ent of all families in Ameri"a who are 2a%"asian, their net
worth is +A>,=== or less. #or 6isani" families in Ameri"a, ?= er"ent of all 6isani"
ho%seholds, their net worth is +.,===. #or Afri"an/Ameri"an families today, in :=,=//5= years
after the eak of the "ivil rights movement and ,?= years or so after the 2ivil 0ar and all the
things we think we have done to try to get eole in a more e1%al osition in o%r so"iety//it is
+?,===. 7hat is in"l%ding home e1%ity//or home ownershi, ! mean. 0itho%t home ownershi,
that net worth for Afri"an/Ameri"an families falls to +,,===.
So when eole say eole are in ain and s%ffering and an'io%s and they "an4t b%y anything,
yo% wonder why. 7here is no "%shion in a re"ession like this. 6ow br%tal is a re"ession to eole
who have so little a "%shionC #or a middle/"lass family of any ra"e, if yo% lose yo%r $ob, yo% "an
get %nemloyment, yo% have some e1%ity in yo%r home, or maybe yo% have some savings yo%
"an fall ba"k on. 7here is a "%shion, and yo% "an bo%n"e ba"k %. 6ow br%tal is this re"ession to
millions of families in Ameri"a who have no "%shionC 7hey are $%st hitting hard ro"k. 7hey are
hitting steel. 7here is no "%shion there. (o% wonder why eole are angry. (o% wonder why this
tea arty movement is festering, why eole are so angry. ! %nderstand that anger. ! am so angry
myself, ! don4t know what to do.
Mr. SANDERS. !f ! "an interr%t my good friend, she is right. !t is no great se"ret that her
oliti"s and mine aren4t the same on many iss%es. She is down here seaking from her heart,
"oming from the State of *o%isiana, whi"h is not radi"ally different from Vermont. 0e have a
lot of str%ggling families.
! want to reiterate a oint. She has been talking so effe"tively abo%t the stress on the middle
"lass and working families in her State and aro%nd the "o%ntry. ! want to reiterate this oint. ! am
not here to i"k on 9eorge 0. 3%sh, b%t d%ring his . years, the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans//retty
high % g%ys) that EEain4t44 the middle "lass no matter how broadly yo% define that//their in"ome
more than do%bled//got that//while their in"ome ta' rate droed almost in half.
7he wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans now earn an average of +-5? million a year and ay an effe"tive
ta' rate of ,A.A er"ent, on average. 7hat is the lowest ta' rate for wealthy individ%als on re"ord.
So the oint is, Senator Landrieu and ! are talking abo%t the eole o%t in the real world who
are working longer ho%rs for lower wages. Median family in"ome has de"lined. Peole are
s"ared that for the first time in o%r modern history their kids will have a lower standard of living
than they had.
!s the Senator hearing that in *o%isianaC
Ms. *ANDR!EB. ! am.
Mr. SANDERS. Senator Landrieu is asking a simle 1%estion, and millions of eole are
asking the same 1%estion. 7he wealthiest eole are be"oming m%"h ri"her, the middle "lass is
de"lining, and overty is in"reasing. 0ho de"idedC 0ho said billionaires need an e'tended ta'
break and a red%"tion in the estate ta'C !t is a very simle 1%estion she is asking. !t is a very
rofo%nd 1%estion be"a%se it seaks to what this "o%ntry is all abo%t. ! didn4t mean to interr%t.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. ! thank the Senator from Vermont. ! "ommend to my "olleag%es this reort
entitled EE!n"ome !ne1%ality and the 9reat Re"ession44 from Senator Schumer and the Goint
E"onomi" 2ommittee. ! ask %nanimo%s "onsent that the E'e"%tive S%mmary be rinted in the
Record.
7here being no ob$e"tion, the material was ordered to be rinted in the RECORD, as follows8
!n"ome !ne1%ality and the 9reat Re"ession
EJE2B7!VE SBMMAR(
7his week, the B.S. 2ens%s 3%rea% will release new statisti"s on in"ome ine1%ality in the
Bnited States, allowing for an assessment of the ima"t of the 9reat Re"ession on o%r nation4s
in"ome distrib%tion. !n rearation for that data release, the Goint E"onomi" 2ommittee ;GE2<
analyDed in"ome ine1%ality in the Bnited States in the years re"eding the 9reat Re"ession, and
fo%nd8
!n"ome ine1%ality has skyro"keted. E"onomists "on"%r that in"ome ine1%ality has risen
dramati"ally over the ast three de"ades.
Middle/"lass in"omes stagnated %nder President 3%sh. D%ring the re"overy of the ,@@=s %nder
President 2linton, middle/"lass in"omes grew at a healthy a"e. 6owever, d%ring the $obless
re"overy of the :===s %nder President 3%sh, that trend reversed "o%rse. Middle/"lass in"omes
"ontin%ed to fall well into the re"overy, and never regained their :==, high. 7he first year of the
9reat Re"ession dealt a shar blow to middle/"lass families, who had not yet re"overed from the
ain of the last re"ession.
6igh levels of in"ome ine1%ality may re"iitate e"onomi" "rises. Peaks in in"ome ine1%ality
re"eded both the 9reat Deression and the 9reat Re"ession, s%ggesting that high levels of
in"ome ine1%ality may destabiliDe the e"onomy as a whole.
!n"ome ine1%ality may be art of the root "a%se of the 9reat Re"ession. Stagnant in"omes for
all b%t the wealthiest Ameri"ans meant an in"reased demand for "redit, f%eling the growth of an
%ns%stainable "redit b%bble. 3ank dereg%lation allowed finan"ial instit%tions to "reate new e'oti"
rod%"ts in whi"h the ever/ri"her ri"h "o%ld invest. 7he res%lt was a b%bble/based e"onomy that
"ame "rashing down in late :==>.
Poli"ymakers have a great deal of leverage in mitigating in"ome ine1%ality in order to stabiliDe
the ma"ro/e"onomy. !n the de"ades following the 9reat Deression, oli"y de"isions heled
kee in"ome ine1%ality low while allowing for "ontin%ed e"onomi" growth. !n "ontrast, oli"y
de"isions made d%ring the e"onomi" e'ansion d%ring the 3%sh administration failed to kee
in"ome ine1%ality in "he"k, and may have e'a"erbated the roblem. Poli"ymakers working to
reb%ild the e"onomy in the wake of the 9reat Re"ession sho%ld heed these lessons and ay
arti"%lar attention to oli"y otions that mitigate e"onomi" ine1%ality.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. Mr. President, ! want to go ba"k to a oint abo%t this so that ! am not
mis%nderstood. ! g%ess no matter what ! say "riti"s will take it and do what they will with it, b%t !
am not against ta' "%ts. ! voted for them many times in my life when we had s%rl%ses. ! have
even been ress%red to vote for things, and have done so, when we didn4t have the s%rl%ses, b%t
they were targeted and fo"%sed and there a"t%ally had been some rational tho%ght atta"hed to
where we might need to borrow some money and send it, s%"h as in the stim%l%s a"kage,
be"a%se in that instan"e, if we didn4t get some sending going, we "o%ld sli f%rther into a
re"ession. Even "onservative e"onomists "o%nseled %s on arts of the stim%l%s a"kage.
3y the way, "ontrary to o%lar myth, that was abo%t the same siDe as this a"kage. 7his
a"kage is a"t%ally larger. 7his a"kage is going to be +@== billion. 7he stim%l%s was +.==/
something. !t was less. 3%t in that stim%l%s a"kage abo%t a third was ta' "%ts. Remember that,
Mr. PresidentC A third of that was ta' "%ts. !t wasn4t all $%st sending. 3%t every e"onomist//
"onservative, liberal//said the government has got to ste % and send in this e"onomy be"a%se
this la"e is sh%tting down//meaning the "o%ntry//and so we did.
Peole will still arg%e on the other side that was the wrong thing to do and we sho%ldn4t have
done it. 3%t ! am here to say that witho%t the +:.. billion in ta' "%ts and sending that went to
*o%isiana thro%gh that stim%l%s a"kage//and my State legislat%re is str%ggling to balan"e the
b%dget, as ! seak) they have been in the b%dget "ommittee over the ast "o%le of weeks//! don4t
know where we wo%ld be today. ! don4t know how m%"h went to Vermont or 2alifornia or how
m%"h went to 2olorado, b%t eole say it was a fail%re. 0ell, let me say that +:.. billion went to
o%r State and it warded off some Dra"onian "%ts that o%r "ities and "o%nties and arishes wo%ld
have had to make, and it warded off ta' in"reases so that 9overnors didn4t have to raise ta'es and
mayors didn4t have to raise ta'es all over this "o%ntry. Some of them have done that, b%t they
have tried to limit it be"a%se they know how fragile this middle "lass is.
! am not %nmindf%l of the imortan"e of roviding ta' "%ts when we "an. 3%t when we are
asked to vote on a a"kage that has a rovision s%"h as this, that borders on moral re"klessness, !
have to "at"h my breath and ask8 0hose idea was thisC ! wish to know.
!t is going to be a long weekend. !t will be a long -= ho%rs of debate. ! am glad the Senator
from Vermont is going to make s%re we take every one of those -= ho%rs ost"lot%re, if we even
get to "lot%re on this bill, be"a%se ! think the Ameri"an eole are going to be waiting aro%nd to
find o%t whose idea was that.
Mr. SANDERS. !f ! "an interr%t the Senator from *o%isiana, be"a%se she makes a very
imortant oint, we are a demo"ra"y and it is the Ameri"an eole who make the de"isions. !
know she shares with me the belief that the Ameri"an eole have to be"ome engaged in this
very imortant debate, whi"h has a lot to do with the f%t%re of this "o%ntry.
Senator Landrieu asks a very simle 1%estion, whi"h ! wo%ld like//and ! think the Ameri"an
eole wo%ld like//an answer to8 0hose brilliant idea was it//at a time when we have seen an
e'losion in in"ome and wealth to the eole on to, while their ta' rates have already gone
down//that we drive % the national debt and ask o%r kids to ay higher ta'es to ay off that debt
in order to give ta' breaks to eole who don4t need themC 7hat is the 1%estion Senator Landrieu
is asking. ! think the Ameri"an eole need an answer to that, and my hoe is that millions of
Ameri"ans will start "alling their Senators to ask that 1%estion.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. 0as it yo%r ideaC 0hose idea was itC
Mr. SANDERS. 0hose idea was itC
7he irony here//and ! think Senator Landrieu made this oint as well//is that there are lenty of
millionaires o%t there who say8 ! don4t need it. ! am more worried abo%t the "r%mbling
infrastr%"t%re or o%r kids o%t there than giving me a ta' break ! don4t need. 7hanks very m%"h.
7hat is what 0arren 3%ffett has said. !t is what 3ill 9ates has said. 3en 2ohen of 3en K Gerry4s
has said it. Many millionaires have said it. 0e are giving some of these g%ys something they do
not even want.
! want to thank Senator Landrieu very m%"h, not only for her being here today//and lease
"ontin%e//b%t for raising these imortant iss%es.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. &ne more oint, and then ! will t%rn this ba"k over to the Senator.
! was on the 9reta Van S%steren show last night. ! have said 9reta is always a to%gh
interviewer, b%t she is fair, so ! am hay to go on her rogram. And it was a to%gh interview.
3%t we debated these things, and ! think that is imortant. ! think it is imortant to debate them
here, on 7V, and in townhall meetings. 7hat is what demo"ra"y is all abo%t. 3%t she said to me8
Senator, we are so fr%strated. Nobody ever hears anybody say they want to "%t sending, or they
want to eliminate waste, fra%d, and ab%se. So let me "on"ede this oint. #or me, ! don4t think we
do talk eno%gh abo%t eliminating the waste, eliminating the fra%d, and eliminating the ab%se. !
think we sho%ld send more time, and ! am going to "ommit myself to that, be"a%se ! know the
Ameri"an eole say8 Every time we ask for a ta' "%t, yo% say we "an4t afford it. 0hy don4t yo%
"%t some sending, et "etera.
*et me state that ! voted for ta' "%ts. ! am for ta' "%ts. ! have even given ta' "%ts to eole
who do make higher than the +>?,=== or +,==,=== or +:?=,===, when we had a s%rl%s, when !
tho%ght it was the fis"ally resonsible thing to do. &ther eole "an disagree, b%t this is the first
time ! am being asked to rovide a ta' "%t for eole earning over +, million with this kind of
defi"it.
3%t ! will say this8 ! am going to "ommit myself to trying to find la"es we "an "%t. ! s%ort
the #ederal freeDe. ! s%ort it in aroriations this year. Senator #nouye is taking down on the
aroriations level +. billion below the President4s b%dget, and if we need to go even f%rther,
erhas we "an. 3%t we have to be "aref%l where we "%t, and ! ask eole to be rational abo%t
this. Do yo% want to "%t Pell grantsC ! looked at this the other day, ! say to the Senator from
Vermont, arti"%larly, be"a%se of 2laiborne Pell. 0hen the Pell grant went into effe"t, it was a
grant to hel kids go to s"hool. 7hat is still what it does. 3%t in the ,@>=s, the Pell grant aid ,==
er"ent of the average :/year "ollege. !t only ays ?= er"ent of that today. ! think ! remember it
aid almost A= er"ent of a 5/year %bli" "ollege. !t only ays like 5= er"ent or less than that
today be"a%se we have not ket % with it.
A rogram s%"h as the Pell grant is a owerf%l tool to lift the middle "lass, or lift the oor o%t
of overty and e'and the middle "lass. So when we "%t rograms, let4s be "aref%l to "%t the
waste, to "%t the ab%se, b%t let4s not "%t the heart o%t of what we are arg%ing for//effe"tive tools
to e'and the middle "lass//or we will never get o%t of this re"ession. 3e"a%se ! romise yo%, the
few tho%sand eole in this "o%ntry//or few tens of tho%sands, ! don4t know how many who
make more than +, million a year//are not going to lift this "o%ntry o%t of a re"ession. !t is going
to be the middle "lass. And if we don4t hel them get ahead, if we don4t hel them get training,
this re"ession will go on for a long time.
Mr. SANDERS. ! want to add the idea that when we think abo%t "%tting ba"k on ed%"ation//
whether it is "hild"are, rimary s"hool, or "ollege//we are simly "%tting off o%r noses to site
o%r fa"es. 7he Senator is aware that where, at one time in this "o%ntry, we %sed to lead the world
in the n%mber of o%r eole who grad%ated "ollege, we are now falling very signifi"antly. 6ow
do yo% be"ome a great e"onomy if yo% don4t have the s"ientists, the engineers, the tea"hers, the
rofessionals o%t there, and many other "o%ntries aro%nd the world are having a higher
er"entage of their high s"hool grad%ates going to "ollegeC 7hat is something we have to
address. Anyone who "omes forward and says "%t ed%"ation is moving %s in e'a"tly the wrong
dire"tion.
Ms. *ANDR!EB. E'a"tly. And ! am for more a""o%ntability. !f some of my "olleag%es on the
other side think some of that money is being wasted or we are not getting o%r bang for the b%"k,
don4t "ome with an a"ross/the/board "%t to Pell grants, "ome with a lan to "hange it, saying
these are the re1%irements for o%r %niversities8 (o% have to grad%ate A? er"ent of the kids who
start or yo% have to have "ertain ben"hmarks before yo% "an aly for these loans or for these
grants.
7his "o%ntry is at a "rossroads, and ! know the President and his advisers %nderstand the
e'traordinary "hallenges before this "o%ntry. ! hoe the Members %nderstand the e"onomi"
danger, the minefield we are in here. 0e "an4t make too many mistakes here. 7here is no "%shion
left. 7here is no s%rl%s left. 0e are down to below bottom. So when we do big things s%"h as
this//and this is a big thing, this +@.= billion big a"kage, it is almost +, trillion//we need to do it
the best way we "an do it. 0e "an4t do it re"klessly or frivolo%sly. 0e "an4t do it for ideology, for
gosh almighty4s sakes.
! wish we "o%ld have fo%ght harder for a better a"kage. ! have not yet de"ided how ! am going
to vote, b%t ! have said if ! vote, ! am not voting 1%ietly. ! may vote yes, ! may vote no, b%t ! will
vote with a lo%d voi"e abo%t what ! am "on"erned abo%t, what ! believe my "onstit%ents are
"on"erned abo%t, and ! will try my best to hel them, to s%ort them, and to make the best
de"isions we "an ne't week. 3%t this has been tro%bling me, and so ! wanted to "ome to the floor
and seak abo%t it, and ! thank the Senator from Vermont.
! yield the floor.
Mr. SANDERS. ! thank Senator Landrieu very m%"h for "oming, and ! think she knows that on
many iss%es her views and mine are different, b%t on this iss%e, ! believe we are seaking for the
overwhelming ma$ority of the eole, not $%st of *o%isiana and Vermont b%t all over this
"o%ntry, who "annot %nderstand why we give ta' breaks to billionaires to drive % the defi"it and
the national debt at a time when the defi"it and the debt are so large. ! want to thank Senator
Landrieu very m%"h for her very arti"%late and heartfelt statements. ! are"iate that very m%"h.
Mr. President, ! was mentioning a moment ago the great "ontrast abo%t what is haening in
o%r e"onomy between the eole on to and everybody else. ! indi"ated that the to 5== families
d%ring the 3%sh Presiden"y alone saw their in"ome more than do%ble, at the same time, by the
way, as their in"ome ta' rates droed almost in half. So that is what is going on for the eole
on to, who wo%ld make o%t e'tremely well %nder this agreement between the President and the
Re%bli"an leadershi.
3%t ! also talked abo%t what is going on with the middle "lass and working families of this
"o%ntry. !f yo% "an believe it//and this is 1%ite amaDing//sin"e De"ember of ,@@@//and this was
in a 0ashington Post arti"le in Gan%ary//there has been a Dero net $ob "reation//a Dero net $ob
"reation. Middle/in"ome ho%seholds made less in :==., when ad$%sted for inflation, than they
did in ,@@@, and that n%mber is s%re to have de"lined f%rther in :==@.
0hat does that meanC !t means that when yo% look at a ,=/year eriod//and eole work very
hard//in many instan"es//a"t%ally, in the vast ma$ority of instan"es//yo% will have both h%sbands
and wives working and still not making eno%gh money to ay the bills. !n fa"t, they have less
money than they %sed to have.
0hen ! was a kid growing %, the e'erien"e was that in the middle "lass one erson//! know
yo%ng eole will not believe this, b%t it is tr%e//years ago in the Bnited States, before the great
global e"onomy, before roboti"s, before "om%ters, one erson "o%ld work 5= ho%rs a week and
earn eno%gh money to ay the bills for the family. &ne erson. 7oday, in Vermont and
thro%gho%t this "o%ntry, overwhelmingly yo% have h%sbands and wives both working. And in
some instan"es they are working very long ho%rs. 3%t here is the r%b8 7oday, a two/in"ome
family has less disosable in"ome than a one/in"ome family did -= years ago be"a%se wages
have not ket % with inflation, and be"a%se health "are "osts have soared, the "ost of ed%"ation
has soared, ho%sing has soared, and basi" ne"essities have soared. 7his is a des"rition of a
"o%ntry moving in the wrong dire"tion.
7hirty years ago, a one/in"ome family had more disosable in"ome than a two/in"ome family
does today. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Maybe we will to%"h on them a little bit later.
3%t one of them, in my view, has to do with o%r disastro%s %nfettered free trade oli"y, whi"h
has res%lted in the sh%tdown of tens of tho%sands of fa"tories in this "o%ntry. Bnder President
3%sh alone, we lost some 5.,=== fa"tories. 0e went from ,@ million man%fa"t%ring $obs to ,:
million man%fa"t%ring $obs, and in many instan"es, those were good $obs.
0here did they goC
Some sh%t down for a variety of reasons. 3%t others sh%t down be"a%se we have trade laws that
say yo% have to be a moron not to sh%t down in Ameri"a be"a%se if yo% go to 2hina, go to
Vietnam, go to Me'i"o, go to a develoing "o%ntry, yo% ay workers there a fra"tion of what yo%
are aying the workers in Ameri"a. 0hy wo%ldn4t yo% goC 7hen yo% bring yo%r rod%"ts right
ba"k into this "o%ntry.
A "o%le weeks ago, my wife and ! did some 2hristmas shoing. #rankly//we went to "o%le
stores//it is very hard to find a rod%"t man%fa"t%red in the Bnited States of Ameri"a. (o% do
not have to have a Ph.D. in e"onomi"s to %nderstand we are not going to have a strong e"onomy
%nless we have a strong man%fa"t%ring "aability, %nless "omanies are reinvesting in 2olorado
or Vermont, "reating good $obs here. (o% do not have an e"onomi" f%t%re when virt%ally
everything yo% are b%ying is "oming from 2hina or another "o%ntry.
0e are not $%st talking abo%t low/end rod%"ts. 7hese are not sneakers or a air of ants. 7his
is in"reasingly high/te"h st%ff. 0e are forfeiting o%r f%t%re as a great e"onomi" nation %nless we
reb%ild o%r ind%strial base and %nless we "reate millions and millions of $obs rod%"ing the
goods and the rod%"ts we "ons%me. 0e "annot "ontin%e to $%st %r"hase rod%"ts from the rest
of the world.
0hen we talk abo%t the "ollase of the middle "lass, it is imortant to also re"ogniDe the fa"t,
as reorted in BSA. 7oday last Setember, EEthe in"omes of the yo%ng and middle/aged//
ese"ially men//have fallen off a "liff sin"e :===, leaving many age gro%s oorer than they
were even in the ,@>=s.44 7he oint being, for yo%ng workers, for e'amle, when we had a
man%fa"t%ring base in Ameri"a in the ,@5=s, ,@?=s, ,@A=s, yo% "o%ld grad%ate high s"hool and
go o%t and get a $ob in a fa"tory. 0as it a glamoro%s $obC No. 0as it a hard $obC (es. 0as it a
dirty $obC !n some "ases.
3%t if yo% worked in man%fa"t%ring, and ese"ially if yo% had a %nion behind yo%, the
likelihood is yo% earned wages to take yo%r family into the middle "lass, yo% had de"ent health
"are "overage, and yo% might even have a strong ension. 0here are all those $obs nowC D%ring
the 3%sh years alone, we went from ,@ million $obs in man%fa"t%ring to ,: million $obs, a
horrendo%s loss of man%fa"t%ring $obs. !f yo% are a kid today in 2olorado or Vermont and yo%
are not of a mind, for whatever reason, to go to "ollege//-= or 5= years ago yo% "o%ld go o%t, get
a $ob in fa"tory, and make some money. 7oday, what are yo%r otionsC (o% "an get a minim%m
wage $ob at M"Donald4s or maybe at 0almart, where benefits are minimal or none'istent. 7hat
is a signifi"ant transition of the Ameri"an e"onomy.
! wish to tell yo% something else, when we talk abo%t man%fa"t%ring. !t did not get a whole lot
of %bli"ity, b%t it is worth reorting. 7he good news is, we have re"ently seen//after the loss of
many tho%sands of $obs in the a%tomobile ind%stry//we have seen the a%to "omanies, 2hrysler
and others, starting to rehire. 0hat ! think has not been widely reorted is, the wages of the new
workers who are being hired are ?= er"ent of the wages of the older workers in the lant. (o%
are going to have workers working side by side, where an older worker who has been there for
years is making +:?, +:. an ho%r, and right ne't to him a new hire is making +,5 an ho%r. !f yo%
%nderstand that the a%tomobile ind%stry was erhas the gold standard for man%fa"t%ring in
Ameri"a, what do yo% think is going to haen to the wages of bl%e/"ollar workers in the f%t%reC
!f all yo% "an get with a %nion behind yo% in a%tomobile man%fa"t%ring is +,5 an ho%r today,
what are yo% going to make in 2olorado or in VermontC Are yo% going to make +,= an ho%r or
+,, an ho%rC !s that eno%gh money on whi"h to raise a familyC Are yo% going to have any
benefitsC Bnlikely.
7hat is what haens when yo%r man%fa"t%ring base disaears and that, to a signifi"ant
degree, in my view, is a res%lt of a disastro%s trade oli"y. ! have to tell yo%//and ! think in
hindsight most eole agree ! was right//when ! was in the 6o%se and all the "ororations in the
world were telling %s how great NA#7A wo%ld be, free trade with Me'i"o, ! did not b%y it. ! was
right. 7hey wo%ld say8 &h, it is going to be even better. 0e will have free trade with 2hina.
7hink abo%t how large 2hina is and all the Ameri"an rod%"ts they are going to b%y over there to
"reate all kinds of $obs in the Bnited States. ! never believed it for a moment.
! will tell yo% a story. ! was in 2hina a n%mber of years ago and as art of a "ongressional
delegation we went to visit 0almart in 2hina. 7he 0almart store, amaDingly eno%gh, looked a
lot like 0almart in Ameri"a//different rod%"ts, b%t it looked like the same style. (o% walk %
and down the aisles and yo% see all these Ameri"an rod%"ts. ! remember 0ilson basketballs,
Pro"ter K 9amble soa rod%"ts//different rod%"ts there for the 2hinese, b%t a lot of the
rod%"ts were Ameri"an rod%"ts. 7hey looked retty familiar.
! asked the g%y who was there with %s who was, ! believe, the head of 0almart Asia//the g%y
in "harge of all the 0almarts in Asia//! asked him a simle 1%estion8 7ell me, how many of
these Ameri"an "omany rod%"ts are a"t%ally man%fa"t%red in the Bnited StatesC
6e was a little bit sheeish and a little bit hesitant and he said8 0ell, abo%t , er"ent.
&bvio%sly, what everybody knew, it is a lot "heaer for the Ameri"an "omanies to set % lants
in 2hina, hire 2hinese workers at ?= "ents an ho%r, >? "ents an ho%r, whatever it is, and have
them b%ild the rod%"t for the 2hinese markets than it is to ay Ameri"an workers +,? an ho%r,
+:= an ho%r, rovide health ins%ran"e, deal with the %nion, deal with the environment. 7hat is
not a great revelation. ! think anybody "o%ld have fig%red that one o%t. 3%t the big money
interests aro%nd here %shed it and 2ongress and President 2linton, at that time, signed it and we
were off and r%nning.
0hen we look at why the middle "lass is in the shae it is//and it is imortant to make s%re
everybody %nderstands it be"a%se one of the things that haens in this world, it is h%man nat%re
! s%ose, is that eole feel very g%ilty and resonsible if they are not taking "are of their
families. Right now we know, with %nemloyment so high//this is not $%st "old statisti"s we are
throwing o%t. 7hese are eole who not only were earning an in"ome that s%orted their
families, they had a sense of worth. Every h%man being wants to be rod%"tive. 7hey want to
rod%"e something. 7hey want to be art of something. 7hey want to go to work, earn a
ay"he"k, bring it home. (o% feel good abo%t that.
Do yo% know what it does to somebody4s sense of h%man worth when s%ddenly yo% are sitting
home wat"hing the 7V, yo% "an4t go o%t and earn a livingC !t destroys eole. Peole be "ome
al"oholi". Peole "ommit s%i"ide. Peole have mental breakdowns be"a%se they are not %tiliDing
their skills. 7hey are no longer being a rod%"tive member of so"iety. 7hat is what
%nemloyment is abo%t.
! think one of the reasons %nemloyment is so high, one of the reasons the middle "lass is
"ollasing, has a lot to do with these disastro%s trade oli"ies. ! have to tell yo%, as we have been
talking abo%t all day long, these oli"ies, these ta' breaks, all this st%ff emanates from "ororate
leaders whose sense of resonsibility is s%"h that they want themselves to be"ome ri"her, they
want more and more rofits for their "omany, b%t they "o%ld "are less abo%t the needs of the
Ameri"an eole.
! remember there was one 2E& of a large, one of o%r largest Ameri"an "ororations, and he
said8 0hen ! look at the f%t%re of 9eneral Ele"tri", ! see 2hina, 2hina, 2hina, and 2hina. 3y the
way, we ended % bailing o%t that arti"%lar "ororation. 6e didn4t look to 2hina to get bailed
o%t, he looked to the ta'ayers of this "o%ntry.
3%t the word has to get o%t to "ororate Ameri"a, they are going to have to start reinvesting in
the Bnited States of Ameri"a. 7hey are going to have to start b%ilding the rod%"ts and the goods
the Ameri"an eole need rather than r%n all over in sear"h of "hea labor. 7hat is an absol%te
imerative if we are going to t%rn this e"onomy aro%nd.
A""ording to a 3oston 9lobe arti"le %blished last year//let
me 1%ote what they say. Again, ! am trying to do"%ment here what is haening to the working
"lass of Ameri"a be"a%se ! do not want individ%al workers, somebody who may be hearing this
on the 7V, the radio, to say8 !t is my fa%lt. 7here is something wrong with me be"a%se ! "an4t go
o%t and get a $ob.
(o% are not alone. 7he entire middle "lass is "ollasing. &%r e"onomy is shedding millions and
millions of $obs. ! know there are eole o%t there trying hard to find work, b%t that work is $%st
not there. 7hat is why we have to reb%ild the e"onomy and "reate $obs. 7his is what the 3oston
9lobe said last year8 EE7he re"ession has been more like a deression for bl%e/"ollar
workers. .....44
7his is an imortant oint to be made here. 0hen we talk abo%t the e"onomy we kind of l%m
everybody together. 7hat is wrong. 7he tr%th is right now in the e"onomy eole on to are
doing very well. 7he %nemloyment rate for %er in"ome eole is very low. 7hey are doing
&F. 7hat as oosed, as this 3oston 9lobe arti"le oints o%t, to what is haening to bl%e "ollar
workers8 EE7he re"ession has been more like a deression for bl%e/"ollar workers, who are losing
$obs m%"h more 1%i"kly than the nation as a whole. .....44
7his is the working "lass of Ameri"a. EE ..... the Nation4s bl%e/"ollar ind%stries have slashed one
in si' $obs sin"e :==>. .....44 *et me reeat that. !t is $%st astronomi"al, a fa"t.
..... the nation4s bl%e/"ollar ind%stries Lman%fa"t%ringM have slashed one in si' $obs sin"e :==>,
"omared with abo%t one in := for all ind%stries, leaving s"ores of the %nemloyed "ometing
for the rare $ob oening in "onstr%"tion or man%fa"t%ring, with many %nlikely to work in those
fields again.
Never.
B to >= er"ent of % emloyed bl%e/"ollar workers have lost $obs ermanently, meaning
their old $obs won4t be there when the e"onomy re"overs.
7hat is the 3oston 9lobe, last year. 0hen we talk abo%t the e"onomy, what we have to do is
%nderstand that bl%e/"ollar workers, middle/"lass, yo%ng workers are h%rting very m%"h. !n the
"onte't, again, of the debate we are now having, the dis"%ssion of whether we sho%ld arove
the agreement rea"hed between the President and the Re%bli"ans on ta'es, the idea of not
signifi"antly investing in o%r e"onomy b%t, rather, giving tens of billions of dollars to the very
ri"h in more ta' breaks makes no sense to many of %s.
0hen we talk abo%t why eole are angry, why eole, when asked the 1%estion by ollsters8
Do yo% think Ameri"a is moving in the right dire"tion, and overwhelmingly they think not, let
me tell yo% why they think not. 7his is $%st d%ring the Presiden"y of President 3%sh from :==,
thro%gh :==.. D%ring that eriod alone//and by the way, the ain is "ertainly "ontin%ing right
now. ! do not mean to s%ggest otherwise. D%ring those . years of 3%sh, over . million
Ameri"ans slied o%t of the middle "lass and into overty. 7oday, nearly 5= million Ameri"ans
are living in overty) >.. million Ameri"ans lost their health ins%ran"e, and that is "ontin%ing.
A re"ent st%dy "ame o%t and s%ggests that the %nins%red now are abo%t ?= million Ameri"ans.
#ifty million Ameri"ans have no health ins%ran"e now. 0e hoe health ins%ran"e reform will
make a dent on that. ! think it will. 3%t as of today, witho%t the ma$or rovisions of health "are
reform being imlemented, ?= million Ameri"ans are witho%t any health ins%ran"e.
D%ring that eriod//and we have not talked abo%t this a whole lot//there is another thing going
on in the e"onomy for the working "lass. (ears and years ago, if yo% worked in a man%fa"t%ring
lant, yo% had a %nion, yo% stood a reasonable "han"e of having a ension//a ension. D%ring the
3%sh years, -.: million workers lost their ensions, and abo%t half of Ameri"an workers in the
rivate se"tor have no ension "overage whatsoever. 7he idea today of having a defined ension
lan signifi"antly aid for by yo%r emloyer is going the way of the dinosa%r. 7hat is $%st not
there anymore.
0orkers are more and more deendent on So"ial Se"%rity, whi"h has been there for >? years,
whi"h we have to rote"t and demand that it will be there another >? years be"a%se right now
millions of workers are losing their ensions. ! mean, ! am throwing these statisti"s o%t, and the
reason ! am doing that is ! want eole to are"iate that if yo% are h%rting now, sto being
ashamed. !t is not, yeah, we "an all do better. Every one of %s "an do better. 3%t yo% are in an
e"onomy whi"h is "ontra"ting, ese"ially for the middle "lass and working families.
A""ording to an arti"le in BSA 7oday, from the year :,=== to :==>, middle/"lass men//women
have done better//middle/"lass men e'erien"ed an ,,.:/er"ent dro in their in"omes//a
red%"tion of +>,>== after ad$%sting for inflation. Middle/"lass women in this age gro% saw a
5../er"ent de"line in their in"omes as well. So they did retty badly, b%t the men did even
worse. So what we are seeing is an %nderstanding of why eole are angry and why eole think
this "o%ntry is moving in the wrong dire"tion.
! think most eole %nderstand that today o%r "o%ntry is e'erien"ing the worst e"onomi"
"risis sin"e the 9reat Deression of the ,@-=s. !t is imortant to say that be"a%se, again, it is hard
eno%gh when yo% do not have a $ob, when yo% do not have in"ome, when yo%r dignity and self/
rese"t are de"lining, b%t ! don4t want eole to be banging their own heads against the wall
blaming themselves for all of the roblems. Something has gone on in the Nation as a whole.
(o% are not in this alone. 0hen we talk abo%t working/"lass families all a"ross the "o%ntry
seeing a de"line in their in"ome, it is not be"a%se eole are laDy, it is not be"a%se eole do not
work hard, it is not be"a%se eole are not trying to find $obs. 0hat we have is an e"onomy
whi"h is rotting in the middle, and we have to "hange the e"onomy.
!f there is anything we "an say abo%t the Ameri"an eole, we work hard. 0e, in fa"t, work
longer ho%rs than do the eole of any other "o%ntry, ind%strialiDed "o%ntry, on Earth. 0e are
not a laDy eole. 0e are a hard/working eole. !f the $obs are there, eole will take them. !f
eole have to work A= ho%rs a week or >= ho%rs a week, that is what they will do. 3%t we have
to reb%ild this e"onomy. 0e do not need ta' breaks for billionaires. 0e need to "reate $obs for
the middle "lass of this "o%ntry so that we "an %t eole ba"k to work.
*et me take a few min%tes to dis"%ss how we got to where we are today and, in my view, what
oli"ies we need to move this "o%ntry forward to "reate the kinds of $obs we deserately need.
*et4s take a 1%i"k look ba"k to where we were in Gan%ary of :==@//it seems like a long time
ago b%t $%st a "o%le of years ago. 7hat was the last month of the administration of President
3%sh. !n that month, we lost over >==,=== $obs. 7hat is an absol%tely in"redible n%mber. !n fa"t,
d%ring the last A months of the 3%sh Presiden"y, we lost over - ,H: million $obs, all of whi"h was
"a%sed by the greed and re"klessness and illegal behavior on 0all Street.
&%r gross domesti" rod%"t, whi"h is the total s%m of all o%r e"onomy rod%"es, had gone
down by nearly > er"ent d%ring the fo%rth 1%arter of :==.. 7hat was the biggest de"line in more
than a 1%arter "ent%ry. Some +? trillion of Ameri"a4s wealth evaorated in a ,:/week eriod, as
the eole in Vermont and all over this "o%ntry saw the val%e of their homes, retirement savings,
and sto"ks l%mmet.
! want to say $%st one word again abo%t 0all Street greed be"a%se ! think for a variety of
reasons we $%st do not talk abo%t it eno%gh. 0hat yo% had was a sit%ation in whi"h a small
n%mber of folks at the head of h%ge finan"ial instit%tions, thro%gh their greed, thro%gh the
develoment of very re"kless oli"ies, thro%gh illegal behavior, thro%gh %shing o%t finan"ial
instr%ments whi"h t%rned o%t in some "ases to be worthless//as a res%lt of all of that, they
l%nged this "o%ntry into the worst re"ession we have seen sin"e the 9reat Deression//from
Gan%ary. 7hat is at the end of the 3%sh Administration.
!t is very imortant to %nderstand that the 0all Street "risis took %s over the wall in terms of
re"iitating the severe re"ession we are in, b%t we have to remember that d%ring those . years,
as ! mentioned earlier, the middle "lass was also shrinking. So it was not8 &h my goodness,
everything is going great. 7hen yo% got the 0all Street disaster, and now we are in the midst of a
terrible re"ession. 7his trend of a middle/"lass "ollase went on long before 3%sh//re"iitated
signifi"antly d%ring the 3%sh years, b%t it went on before as well, not $%st d%ring the 3%sh years.
&ver the ./year eriod of President 3%sh, from :==, to :==@, we lost A==,=== rivate se"tor
$obs. 0e lost A==,=== rivate se"tor $obs, and only , million net new $obs were "reated, all of
them in the government se"tor. So for my friends, my Re%bli"an "olleag%es, to tell %s that we
need more ta' breaks for the very ri"h be"a%se that is going to "reate $obs//that is what tri"kle/
down e"onomi"s is all abo%t//! wo%ld say to them8 (o% had yo%r "han"e. !t failed. !n "ase yo%
don4t know, losing A==,=== rivate se"tor $obs in . years is not good. 7hat is very, very bad. 7hat
is an e"onomi" oli"y that has failed. 0e don4t need to look at that movie again. 0e saw it. !t
st%nk. !t was a bad movie. 3ad e"onomi" oli"y. More ta' breaks for the ri"h is not what o%r
e"onomy needs. !n fa"t, what every e"onomist will tell yo% is that is the least effe"tive way to
"reate $obs.
D%ring the 3%sh era, median in"ome droed by nearly +:,:==. 7hat means that a family in the
middle, over an ./year eriod, saw their in"ome dro by +:,:== d%ring the . years of 3%sh.
! say all of these things $%st to tell yo% that we are not where we are today $%st be"a%se of the
0all Street "risis. 7hat took %s over the "liff. 7hat made a very bad sit%ation m%"h, m%"h worse.
3%t it has been going on for a long time. !t has gone on before 3%sh. !t has gone on after 3%sh.
D%ring the . years of 3%sh, over . million Ameri"ans slied o%t of the middle "lass and into
overty. 0e don4t talk abo%t overty in Ameri"a anymore. 0e don4t talk abo%t the homelessness
in Ameri"a very m%"h anymore. 7r%st me, it is there. !t is three blo"ks away from where ! am
seaking right now, a very large homeless shelter. !t is in small towns in Vermont where eole
tell me that for the first time they are seeing more and more families with kids needing
emergen"y shelter be"a%se they "an4t afford ho%sing. !n Vermont, a lot of eole have low/wage
$obs making ,= b%"ks an ho%r, and it is hard to find a de"ent aartment or ay a mortgage on +,=
an ho%r. 7hat is tr%e "ertainly all over this "o%ntry. 6omelessness is going %.
D%ring the 3%sh years, nearly . million Ameri"ans lost their health ins%ran"e. &ne of the
iss%es ! will talk abo%t in a little while is health "are. !t is related to everything. 0e are the only
"o%ntry in the ind%strialiDed world that does not g%arantee health "are to all eole as a right of
"itiDenshi. A""ording to 6arvard Bniversity, 5?,=== Ameri"ans will die this year be"a%se they
la"k health ins%ran"e and are not getting to a do"tor when they sho%ld.
D%ring the 3%sh administration, ? million man%fa"t%ring $obs disaeared, as "omanies sh%t
down lants in the Bnited States and moved to 2hina, Me'i"o, Vietnam, and other low/wage
"o%ntries. As ! mentioned earlier, it is rofo%ndly imortant to %nderstand what is going on in
Ameri"a. !n :===, we had over ,>,=== man%fa"t%ring $obs in this "o%ntry. 3y :==., we had less
than ,:,===. 7hat is ,>,=== to ,:,=== in . years. 7hat is the loss of ? million man%fa"t%ring
$obs//a :@/er"ent red%"tion//and the fewest n%mber of man%fa"t%ring $obs sin"e the beginning
of 0orld 0ar !!.
Bnder President 3%sh, o%r trade defi"it with 2hina more than triled and the overall trade
defi"it nearly do%bled.
Again, the oint ! am making now in the "onte't of this agreement is that we need agreements
now that do not give ta' breaks to millionaires or billionaires, that do not lower the ta' rates or
the estate ta', whi"h is ali"able only to the to three/tenths of , er"ent. 0e need an
agreement that reb%ilds o%r infrastr%"t%re, reb%ilds o%r man%fa"t%ring base, and "reates the
millions of good/aying $obs the Ameri"an eole deserately want.
Again, ! think the oint has to be made//and ! have to make it over and over//that when yo%
look at the e"onomy, it is one thing to say everybody is h%rting. (o% know, sometimes that
haens. A terrible h%rri"ane "omes thro%gh and kno"ks down everybody4s home. 0ell, the
h%rri"ane that has hit Ameri"a for the last ,=, := years has not ima"ted everybody) it has
ima"ted the working "lass, it has ima"ted the middle "lass. 7he eole on to are doing better
than they ever were. &%r friends on 0all Street whose greed and illegal behavior "a%sed this
re"ession are now making more money than they ever did, after being bailed o%t by the middle
"lass of this "o%ntry.
D%ring the 3%sh years, the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans saw their in"omes more than do%ble. Do
yo% really think that after seeing a do%bling of their in"omes %nder the 3%sh years, these eole
are in deserate need of another million/dollar/a/year ta' breakC !n :==>, the 5== to in"ome
earners in this "o%ntry made an average of +-5? million in , year. 7hat is a retty ie"e of
"hange. 7hat is the average, +-5? million. !n terms of wealth, as oosed to in"ome, the
wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans saw an in"rease in their wealth of some +5== billion d%ring the 3%sh
years. !magine that. D%ring an ./year eriod, the to 5== wealthiest eole ea"h saw an in"rease,
on average, of +, billion aie"e. 7ogether, these 5== families have a "olle"tive net of +,.:>
trillion. Does anybody in Ameri"a really believe these g%ys need another ta' break so that o%r
kids and o%r grand"hildren "an ay more in ta'es be"a%se the national debt has gone %C ! do not
think most Ameri"ans believe that. 7hat is why, in my view, most Ameri"ans are not s%orting
this agreement.
*et me also say that when we look at what is going on aro%nd the rest of the world, what we
have to are"iate is that in the Bnited States today//again, this is not something we "an be ro%d
of) it is something we have to address//we have the most %ne1%al distrib%tion of wealth and
in"ome of any other "o%ntry on Earth.
! remember talking not so long ago to somebody from S"andinavia. ! think it was #inland. 6e
was saying8 &f "o%rse, we have ri"h eole in o%r "o%ntry, b%t there is a level at whi"h they
wo%ld be"ome embarrassed.
Ameri"a now has a sit%ation where the 2E&s of large "ororations make -== times more than
their workers. !n many other "o%ntries, everybody wants to be ri"h, b%t there is a limit. (o% "an4t
be"ome a billionaire steing over "hildren sleeing on the street. 7hat is not what this "o%ntry is
s%osed to be abo%t. Eno%gh sho%ld be eno%gh.
7he to , er"ent today earns :-.? er"ent of all in"ome. !n the ,@>=s, that n%mber was .
er"ent. !n the ,@@=s, it was aro'imately ,A er"ent. Now it is :-.? er"ent. So the eole on
to are getting a bigger and bigger "h%nk of all in"ome. #%rthermore, it is not only the to ,
er"ent, there are e"onomists who ask8 (o% think the to , er"ent are doing wellC !t is really the
to one/tenth of , er"ent. !f yo% "an believe this, the to one/tenth of , er"ent//and ! don4t
know how many eole that is, yo% "an do the arithmeti", -== million into one/tenth of ,
er"ent//took in ,, er"ent of total in"ome, a""ording to the latest data. &ne/tenth of , er"ent
earned ,, er"ent of all in"ome in Ameri"a.
!n the ,@>=s, the to , er"ent only made something like . er"ent of total in"ome. !n the
,@.=s it rose to ,= to ,5 er"ent. !n the late ,@@=s, it was ,? er"ent to ,@ er"ent. !n :==? it
assed :, er"ent. And in :=,=, the to , er"ent re"eive :- er"ent of all the in"ome earned in
this "o%ntry.
Peole sho%ld be mindf%l of this fa"t8 7he last time that tye of in"ome disarity took la"e
was in ,@:.. ! think we all know what haened in ,@:@. 7hat is the oint Senator Landrieu was
making a while ba"k. 0hat she %nderstands, 1%ite "orre"tly, is if working eole, the vast
ma$ority of the eole, don4t have the in"ome to send money to b%y rod%"ts and goods and
servi"es, we "an4t "reate the $obs. !f all of the money or a big "h%nk of the money ends % with a
few eole on to, there is a limit to how many limo%sines yo% "an have and how many homes
yo% "an have and how many ya"hts yo% "an have. So when we hit a sit%ation where so few have
so m%"h, it is not only a moral iss%e, it is also an e"onomi" iss%e.
A strong and growing middle "lass goes o%t, sends money, and "reates $obs. 9rossly %ne1%al
distrib%tion of in"ome and wealth "reates more e"onomi" shrinkage and loss of $obs be"a%se
eole $%st don4t have the disosable in"ome to go o%t and b%y and "reate $obs.
7o add ins%lt to in$%ry in terms of this agreement negotiated by the President and Re%bli"ans,
while the very wealthiest eole be"ame m%"h wealthier and the defi"it soared//and %nder
President 3%sh the national debt almost do%bled//what else haenedC 7he ta' rates for the very
ri"h went down. 7he ri"h got ri"her) ta' rates went down. 7his was a res%lt not only of the ta'
breaks for the ri"h initiated d%ring the 3%sh administration b%t also, 1%ite frankly, ta' oli"y that
took la"e before President 3%sh. 7he res%lt is that from ,@@: to :==>, from the latest statisti"s
we have, the effe"tive #ederal ta' rate//what eole really ay//for the to 5== in"ome earners
was "%t almost in half. So these "ry babies, these m%ltimillionaires and billionaires, these eole
who are making o%t like bandits, they are "rying and "rying and "rying, b%t the effe"tive ta' rate
for the to 5== in"ome earners was "%t almost in half from ,@@: to :==>.
7he oint that needs to be made is, when is eno%gh eno%ghC 7hat is the essen"e of what we are
talking abo%t. 9reed, in my view, is like a si"kness. !t is like an addi"tion. 0e know eole who
are on heroin. 7hey "an4t sto. 7hey destroy their lives. 7hey need more and more heroin. 7here
are eole who "an4t sto smoking. 7hey have roblems with ni"otine. 7hey get addi"ted to
"igarettes. !t "osts them their health. Peole have roblems with food. 0e all have o%r share of
addi"tions. 3%t ! wo%ld hoe that these eole who are worth h%ndreds of millions of dollars will
look aro%nd them and say8 7here is something more imortant in life than the ri"hest eole
be"oming ri"her when we have the highest rate of "hildhood overty in the ind%strialiDed world.
Maybe they will %nderstand that they are Ameri"ans, art of a great nation whi"h is in tro%ble
today. Maybe they have to go ba"k to the 3ible, whatever they believe in, and %nderstand there is
virt%e in sharing, in rea"hing o%t) that yo% "an4t get it all.
! think this is an iss%e we have to stay on and stay on and stay on. 7his greed, this re"kless,
%n"ontrollable greed is almost like a disease whi"h is h%rting this "o%ntry terribly. 6ow "an
anybody be ro%d to say they are a m%ltimillionaire and are getting a h%ge ta' break and one/
1%arter of the kids in this "o%ntry are on food stamsC 6ow "an one be ro%d of thatC ! don4t
know.
!t is not only in"ome, it is wealth. 7he to , er"ent owns more wealth than the bottom @=
er"ent. D%ring the 3%sh years, the wealthiest 5== Ameri"ans saw their wealth in"rease by some
+5== billion. 6ow m%"h is eno%ghC
All of these things are related to the agreement the President and Re%bli"ans worked o%t
be"a%se we are all "on"erned abo%t the national debt and defi"it. !n terms of the #ederal b%dget,
when President 3%sh first took offi"e, he inherited a +:-A billion s%rl%s in :==, and a ro$e"ted
,=/year s%rl%s of +?.A trillion. 7hat is what Senator Landrieu was dis"%ssing. 3%t then some
things haened. 0e all know that @H,, was not his fa%lt, b%t what haened is, we went to war
in Afghanistan. 0e went to war in !ra1. 7he war in !ra1 was the fa%lt of President 3%sh,
something ! "ertainly did not s%ort, nor do ! think most Ameri"ans s%orted. 7he war in !ra1,
by the time o%r last veteran is taken "are of, will robably end % "osting %s something like +-
trillion, adding enormo%sly to o%r national debt.
So when we talk abo%t !ra1, it is not only the terrible loss of life that o%r soldiers and the !ra1i
eole have e'erien"ed, let4s not forget what it has done to the defi"it and the national debt. 0e
did not ay for the war in !ra1. 0e $%st %t it on the "redit "ard.
President 3%sh gave o%t +>== billion in ta' "%ts for the wealthiest , er"ent of Ameri"ans.
0here was the offsetC 7here was none. 6e gave them ta' breaks. 7hat is it. !t adds to the
national debt.
7he President and Re%bli"ans s%orted a +5== billion Medi"are Part D res"rition dr%g
rogram. ! have always believed we need a strong res"rition dr%g rogram for seniors. 3%t the
rogram that was assed was written by the harma"e%ti"al ind%stry, written by the ins%ran"e
"omanies, and is nowhere near as "ost/effe"tive as it "o%ld be. As the President %ndo%btedly
knows, we are not even negotiating res"rition dr%g ri"es with the dr%g "omanies, a great
e'ense and great "ost to the Ameri"an eole, where dr%g ri"es are now m%"h more e'ensive
%nder Medi"are Part D than they are in terms of what the Veterans4 Administration or the
Deartment of Defense %r"hases. So we assed that, %naid for. 9reat idea. G%st another +5==
billion res"rition dr%g rogram %naid for.
7hen we bailed o%t 0all Street. 7he original "ost was +>== billion. A lot of that has been aid
ba"k, b%t there is e'ense there as well.
So we add all these things together, normal governmental growth, and it t%rns o%t that the 3%sh
administration t%rned a +:-A/billion/a/year s%rl%s into a +,.-/trillion/a/year defi"it. More or
less, that is where we are right now. !n fa"t, the national debt nearly do%bled %nder President
3%sh, going from +?.> trillion to +,=.A trillion in :==@ and now we are at +,-.> trillion,
borrowing h%ge s%ms of money from 2hina and other "o%ntries in order to maintain o%r
e'isten"e. 7hat is where we are.
6ave we been seeing in re"ent years some imrovements in the e"onomyC 0e s%re have.
7here has been some $ob growth. Nowhere near eno%gh. 3%t we are s%rely not losing >==,===
$obs a year. 0e are seeing some growth. 3%t we need to do m%"h better.
7hat takes me ba"k to an iss%e ! feel strongly abo%t and one on whi"h ! want to say a few
words. !n this agreement the President negotiated with Re%bli"ans, there is a s%bstantial s%m of
money going into vario%s tyes of b%siness ta' breaks. 7he theory, whi"h has "ertainly some
validity, is that these b%siness ta' breaks will "reate $obs. 7he roblem is that right now,
b%sinesses, the large "ororations at least, are sitting on a h%ge b%ndle of money already that
they are not sending. 7he reason they are not investing that money is they er"eive that working
families don4t have the money to b%y their rod%"ts and servi"es.
!n saying this, ! am not alone. ! think most e"onomists agree there is a far more effe"tive way
we "an "reate $obs rather than $%st a n%mber of ta' breaks going to b%sinesses. ! to%"hed on this
oint before. ! want to get into a little bit more detail.
#or this ! am indebted to a very fine book written by an old friend of mine, Arianna
6%ffington. 7he title of her book is EE7hird 0orld Ameri"a.44 She %sed that word be"a%se
basi"ally the theme of her book is, if we do not get o%r a"t together in terms of infrastr%"t%re, in
terms of ed%"ation, in terms of health "are, that is where we are headed. 0e are headed in the
dire"tion of being a 7hird 0orld nation.
She has an interesting "hater whi"h deals with one very imortant art of what is going on in
Ameri"a, and that is the "r%mbling of o%r infrastr%"t%re. She writes8
#rom ,@.= to :==?, the miles traveled by a%tomobiles in"reased @5 er"ent//for tr%"ks mileage
in"reased ,=? er"ent//yet there was only a -.? er"ent in"rease in highway lane miles.
More and more "ars, more and more traveling. 0e are not b%ilding roads.
3%t yo% don4t need these n%mbers to know that o%r roads are badly "ongested.
Anybody who lives aro%nd 0ashington knows o%r roads are "ongested. !t takes ho%rs to get to
work sometimes.
(o% see it and e'erien"e it every day.
A""ording to the Ameri"an So"iety of 2ivil Engineers infrastr%"t%re reort "ard//and this is
where we sho%ld be investing, not ta' breaks for the ri"h//Ameri"ans send 5.: billion ho%rs a
year st%"k in traffi". 7hink abo%t that, 5.: billion ho%rs a year st%"k in traffi", at a "ost of +>.
billion a year. 7hink abo%t all of the oll%tion, all of the greenho%se gas emissions, all of the
fr%stration, all of the an'iety, all of the road rage. Peole are st%"k on roads be"a%se o%r
transortation system is totally inade1%ate, o%r roads, o%r %bli" transortation.
She then makes another interesting oint. 0hen we talk abo%t a%tomobile a""idents, what do
we %s%ally thinkC 0e think somebody is driving re"klessly, maybe they are dr%nk. 7hose are
serio%s iss%es. 3%t she writes8 !n st%dying "ar "rashes a"ross the "o%ntry, the 7ransortation
2onstr%"tion 2oalition determined that badly maintained or managed roads are resonsible for
+:,> billion a year in "ar "rashes, far more than headline/grabbing, al"ohol/related a""idents or
seed/related ile%s.
!n other words, if yo% want to know why we are seeing a%tomobile "rashes, the iss%e of bad
roads is even more signifi"ant than dr%nk drivers or eole who are re"kless drivers. ! "an
remember//! think everybody has the same story//! was driving on a road in Vermont, and,
whoos, there was a h%ge othole, and the "ar went into it. !t "ost a few h%ndred dollars to reair
the "ar. So we are sending as a nation billions of dollars reairing o%r "ars be"a%se o%r roads
are not in good shae. 0hen there is a traffi" $am, eole are emitting all kinds of greenho%se
gas emissions. (o% are wasting gas. (o% are wasting money. !f we invested in o%r transortation
system, we "o%ld go a long way to addressing that.
0hen we talk abo%t transortation//and, by the way, again, ! bring this iss%e % be"a%se, in the
bill agreed to by the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi, to the best of my knowledge, not
one enny//not one enny//is going into infrastr%"t%re, whi"h, to me, does not make any sense at
all.
Again, Arianna 6%ffington writes8
Ameri"a4s railway system is seeding down the tra"ks in reverse. !t is one of the few
te"hnologies that has a"t%ally regressed over the ast .= years.
Regressed. ! am not talking abo%t 2hina, where they are b%ilding all these high/seed rail lines.
&%r rail sit%ation in terms of the amo%nt of time it takes to go from lo"ation one to lo"ation two
has a"t%ally gotten longer.
She writes8
7om Vanderbilt of Slate."om//
0hi"h is a very good 0eb site//
"ame a"ross some re/0orld 0ar !! train timetables and made a startling dis"overy. Many
train rides in the ,@-=s, 5=s, and ?=s took less time than those $o%rneys wo%ld take today.
2an yo% imagine thatC !n the ,@-=s, ,@5=s, and ,@?=s, eole were able to get on a train and
get to their destination in less time than is the "ase today.
#or instan"e, in ,@-5, the 3%rlington Nehyr wo%ld get yo% from 2hi"ago to Denver//
#rom 2hi"ago to Denver//
in aro%nd ,- ho%rs. 7he same tri takes ,. ho%rs today.
! do not know if the Presiding &ffi"e is familiar with the 3%rlington Nehyr, whi"h is a train
that goes from 2hi"ago to Denver, b%t what this writer is ointing o%t is that in ,@-5 it took ,-
ho%rs to make that tri. Do yo% know how long it takes todayC !t takes ,. ho%rs. So we are
moving in the wrong dire"tion.
! know in Vermont//! do not have any statisti"s right in front of me b%t ! "an tell yo%//! believe
very strongly//it takes longer to get from the so%thern art of the State to the northern art of the
State than it %sed to, and the fre1%en"y of the tris is less than they %sed to be.
7he tri from 2hi"ago to Minneaolis via the &lymian 6iawatha, in the ,@?=s, took abo%t 5
,H: ho%rs. 7oday, via Amtrak4s train, the $o%rney takes more than . ho%rs.
!t %sed to be 5 ,H: . So in terms of o%r %bli" transortation, not only are we negle"ting, not
only are we not moving forward, we are a"t%ally moving ba"kwards.
At the moment, the only high/seed train in the Bnited States is Amtrak4s A"ela, whi"h travels
the 0ashington, New (ork, 3oston line.
And she writes8
And ! %se the term EEhigh/seed44 very loosely. 0hile in theory the trains have a eak seed of
,?= miles er ho%r, the average seed on that train is $%st abo%t >, miles er ho%r.
&n"e again, ! read some statisti"s before, ointing o%t that 2hina is b%ilding tho%sands and
tho%sands of miles of high/seed rail. And here in the Bnited States we are moving ba"kwards. !t
is taking %s a longer time for vario%s train rides than %sed to be the "ase.
3%t it is not $%st trains. !t is not $%st o%r roads. !t is not $%st o%r bridges.
0ell, it is also o%r bridges. *et me say a word on bridges. ! think we all remember 5 years ago,
! think it was, the terrible tragedy in the Minneaolis area, when one of their ma$or bridges
"ollased and a n%mber of eole lost their lives. 7hat got the front/age headlines all over this
"o%ntry. ! know in Vermont we "losed down bridges. 7hey are not safe to travel.
A""ording to the Deartment of 7ransortation, , in 5 of Ameri"a4s bridges is either
str%"t%rally defi"ient or f%n"tionally obsolete. 7he n%mbers are even worse when it "omes to
bridges in %rban areas, where , in - bridges is defi"ient//no small matter given the high levels of
assengers and freight traffi" in o%r Nation4s "ities.
So a h%ge amo%nt of traffi"//in %rban areas one in three bridges is defi"ient, and in r%ral areas
s%"h as Vermont, one in fo%r.
6ow are these bridges going to be reb%iltC !t is likely not going to be done by lo"al and State
governments that right now are e'erien"ing enormo%s e"onomi" "rises. !f it is going to be done,
it is going to have to be done here at the #ederal level.
! have to say that in Vermont we saw some signifi"ant imrovements as a res%lt of the stim%l%s
a"kage. !n fa"t, in Vermont, re"ently, we have %t more money in reb%ilding o%r roads and
bridges with very good s%""ess. ! think the eole of Vermont see the differen"e. !n the last
"o%le years, dire"tly as a res%lt of the stim%l%s a"kage, we have made signifi"ant
imrovements on a n%mber of bridges b%t nowhere near eno%gh.
7he oint ! want to make is that with o%r infrastr%"t%re "ollasing, with the Ameri"an So"iety
of 2ivil Engineers s%ggesting we need to send +:.: trillion in the ne't ? years $%st to maintain
where we are, we have an agreement before %s whi"h %ts Dero dollars in infrastr%"t%re.
A""ording to this book8
0e need to invest +.?= billion over the ne't ?= years to get all of Ameri"a4s bridges into good
shae.
7r%st me, we are not "oming anywhere near that right now.
3%t it is not $%st o%r roads. !t is not $%st o%r %bli" transortation. !t is not $%st o%r bridges.
0hen we talk abo%t infrastr%"t%re, we also have to talk abo%t dams.
&n Mar"h ,A, :==A, the Fa *oko Dam in Fila%ea, 6awaii, "ollased, and seven eole died
when the Fa *oko Dam brea"hed after weeks of heavy rain, sending ,.A million tons of water
downstream.
Dams are a vital art of Ameri"a4s infrastr%"t%re. 7hey hel rovide for drinking, irrigation,
and agri"%lt%re, and generate m%"h needed ower, and often offer rote"tion from floods. (et
o%r dams are growing old. 7here are more than .?,=== dams in Ameri"a, and the average age is
?, years. At the same time, more and more eole are moving into develoments lo"ated below
dams that re1%ire signifi"antly greater safety standards. 3%t we have had a hard time keeing %
with the in"rease in the so/"alled high/haDard dams. !ndeed, we are falling f%rther and f%rther
behind.
So the oint here is, we have a ma$or agreement. Peole are "on"erned abo%t "reating $obs. 0e
are investing Dero in o%r infrastr%"t%re, and dams are a very imortant art of o%r infrastr%"t%re,
as are levees. And ! s%se"t Senator Landrieu, who was here a little while ago, wo%ld have
something to say abo%t levees.
All right. So we are talking abo%t an infrastr%"t%re whi"h is "ollasing. 0e are talking abo%t
2hina investing far more in terms of their 9DP into infrastr%"t%re imrovement than we are. 0e
are talking abo%t being in the midst of a ma$or re"ession, where we deserately want to grow
$obs, and yet this roosal does not add one "ent into o%r infrastr%"t%re.
Now, again, ! am going ba"k to the very good book written by Arianna 6%ffington "alled
EE7hird 0orld Ameri"a.44 She writes8
As bad as Ameri"a4s sewers, roads, bridges, dams, and water ower systems are, they ale in
"omarison to the "risis we are fa"ing in o%r s"hools. ! am not talking abo%t the hysi"al state of
o%r dilaidated %bli" s"hool b%ildings, altho%gh the National Ed%"ation Asso"iation estimates
that it wo%ld take +-:: billion to bring Ameri"a4s s"hool b%ildings into good reair.
! have been in s"hools in Vermont and elsewhere whi"h were old and "r%mbling, and ! have
been in s"hools whi"h are new and state of the art. ! think anyone who has seen the "ontrast in
terms of the attit%de of the st%dents in those tyes of s"hools will %nderstand it is imortant to
give these kids good la"es in whi"h to learn and to grow. !t means a lot to them when they see a
b%ilding that is new that has state/of/the/art e1%iment, as oosed to one that is "r%mbling. !t
s%ggests to them what we as a so"iety feel abo%t them.
Arianna 6%ffington writes8
Nothing is 1%i"kening o%r des"ent into 7hird 0orld stat%s faster than o%r reso%nding fail%re to
roerly ed%"ate o%r "hildren. 7his fail%re has rofo%nd "onse1%en"es for o%r f%t%re, both at
home and as we look to "omete with the rest of the world in the global e"onomy.
She writes8
6istori"ally, ed%"ation has been the great e1%aliDer.
7hat is "ertainly the "ase.
7hat has been the in"redible virt%e of o%r %bli" s"hool system//
0hat we have taken as kids, who sent//my father did not grad%ate from high s"hool. My
mother did. 7hat was it.
//and given millions of yo%ng eole the oort%nity to get a good ed%"ation in s"hool and be
able to go to "ollege and %se their otential. 7he sringboard to the middle "lass and beyond has
been ed%"ation. !t was a romise we made to all of o%r eole.
0hat we as a nation said is, regardless of yo%r in"ome, we are going to rovide yo% with the
best ossible ed%"ation in order to s%""eed in life. 7hat is something e'traordinary, that no
matter what yo%r in"ome is, we are going to rovide yo% with a great ed%"ation. As a kid, ! went
to %bli" s"hools, and ! did have a very good ed%"ation.
3%t something has gone in re"ent years terribly wrong, and we have slied f%rther and f%rther
behind many other "o%ntries. Among -= develoed "o%ntries ranked by the &rganisation for
E"onomi" 2o/oeration and Develoment//
7hat is the &E2D//
the Bnited States ranked :?th in math and :,st in s"ien"e.
So :?th in math, :,st in s"ien"e.
Even the to ,= er"ent of the Ameri"an st%dents//o%r best and brightest//ranked only :5th in
the world in math litera"y.
7here was another st%dy, ! think robably $%st a more %dated &E2D st%dy, that "ame o%t $%st
the other day, reorted in the New (ork 7imes, where kids in Shanghai were leading the world
in these tyes of tests as "omared to o%r own st%dents. 7hey are st%died. 7hey have better
s"hools, better tea"hers, more investments in their ed%"ation. And there is a "%lt%re there. 7here
is a "%lt%re. !t is not fair to blame the kids.
Does anyone serio%sly believe in the Bnited States of Ameri"a we take intelle"t%al
develoment serio%slyC ! was reading today//! do not remember the g%y4s name, who it was//a
basketball layer or a baseball layer $%st signing a "ontra"t for %ntold tens of millions of dollars.
(et yo% have tea"hers starting off at +-=,===, +-:,===. !s anyone going to s%ggest in a serio%s
way we reward eole who be"ome "hild"are workers or tea"hersC
0e have "hild"are workers taking "are of little kids//whi"h may be the most imortant $ob in
o%r so"iety be"a%se there is the brain develoment that takes la"e between Dero and - that has a
large art to do with what a h%man being be"omes//eole leaving early "hildhood ed%"ation in
order to move % the e"onomi" ladder and get a $ob at M"Donald4s be"a%se ay is so low,
benefits are so low. 0hat are we doing as a nationC
She writes8
A National Assessment of Ed%"ational Progress reort fo%nd that $%st -- er"ent of B.S. fo%rth
graders and -: er"ent eighth graders were rofi"ient in reading.
Et "etera, et "etera, et "etera.
So ! think her oint is that if we are not going to be"ome a 7hird 0orld nation, we have to start
investing in this "o%ntry//in o%r hysi"al infrastr%"t%re, in o%r h%man infrastr%"t%re, and in o%r
ed%"ational infrastr%"t%re.
*et me give yo% some e'amles of what this means in real terms. 7oday, %nemloyment in o%r
"o%ntry//the offi"ial %nemloyment rate is @.. er"ent. #or those witho%t a high s"hool diloma,
it is ,?.A er"ent, "omared to ?.A er"ent for "ollege grad%ates. Mr. President, A> er"ent of
high s"hool grad%ates do not have eno%gh of the skills re1%ired for s%""ess in "ollege and the
:,st "ent%ry workfor"e.
As many as ,>=,=== high s"hool grad%ates ea"h year are reared to go on to "ollege b%t
"annot afford that. *et me reeat that. Abo%t ,>=,=== yo%ng eole in this "o%ntry, who grad%ate
high s"hool, who want to go to "ollege, are %nable to do it be"a%se they "annot afford it.
Are we n%tsC 0hat are we doing in wasting the e'traordinary intelle"t%al otential of all of
these yo%ng eoleC
0hat we are saying to them is be"a%se yo% don4t have the money and be"a%se "ollege is so
e'ensive, and be"a%se o%r #ederal 9overnment is more b%sy giving ta' breaks to billionaires
and fighting two wars, we are not investing in yo%.
7hat makes no sense at all. 0hen yo% invest in yo%r kids, yo% are investing in the f%t%re of
Ameri"a. 7hey are Ameri"a. And if they are not well ed%"ated, how are they going to be"ome
rod%"tive members of so"ietyC 6ow are we going to "omete against 2hina and E%roe and
other "o%ntries aro%nd the world that are investing in ed%"ationC
6ere is something we don4t talk abo%t eno%gh8 7he fastest growing o""%ations are those that
re1%ire higher levels of ed%"ation and greater te"hni"al "ometen"y. So we have a roblem//it is
tr%e in Vermont and it is tr%e all over the "o%ntry//whi"h is we have $obs o%t there, good $obs,
and those $obs "annot be filled be"a%se o%r yo%ng eole don4t have the $ob skills to fill them.
6ow abs%rd is thatC
! remember there was a ie"e in one of the aers, ! think it was in &hio, where after the worst
of the re"ession, a lot of layoffs//! think it was &hio//they were beginning to hire workers and
these were for sohisti"ated, high/te"h $obs. 7hey bro%ght workers in and bro%ght them in and
bro%ght them in, and they "o%ldn4t "ome % with the n%mber of workers they needed to fill the
$obs they had. 0hat does that say abo%t o%r ed%"ational systemC
Data from Allian"e for E'"ellent Ed%"ation, :==@8 ,,.== Vermont droo%ts "ost the State +5?@
million of lost lifetime earnings for the State and +,@.5 million in health "are "osts. !n other
words, what everybody %nderstands is if yo% don4t invest in yo%r yo%ng eole, they are not
going to be"ome rod%"tive, ta'/aying workers. As often as not, they will get involved in self/
destr%"tive a"tivity//dr%gs, "rime, whatever. 7hey will end % in $ail, and we end % sending
tens of tho%sands of dollars keeing them in $ail rather than seeing them o%t there as rod%"tive
members of so"iety "ontrib%ting their fair share in ta'es.
7he Brban !nstit%te says we "an red%"e "hild overty//whi"h ! mentioned earlier is the highest
in the ind%strialiDed world//by -? er"ent if we rovide "hild"are s%bsidies to families with
in"ome less than ?= er"ent of State median.
7his is an iss%e ! feel very strongly abo%t. !t is, to me, beyond "omrehension that in Vermont
and thro%gho%t this "o%ntry, it is e'tremely diffi"%lt for working/"lass families to find
affordable, good 1%ality "hild"are. 0e are not ba"k in the ,@?=s where daddy went to work and
mommy stayed home taking "are of the kids. Mom is at work as well. And we have families all
over this "o%ntry//middle/"lass, working/"lass families//saying, ! "annot find 1%ality "hild"are.
0e are %n"omfortable leaving o%r :/year/old or -/year/old. 0e "an4t find "hild"are at a rate we
"an afford.
!n this area, again, we are far behind many other "o%ntries aro%nd the world. Fids who do not
get intelle"t%ally "hallenging early "hildhood ed%"ation, kids who do not get the emotional
s%ort they need from Dero to - to 5, will enter s"hool already 1%ite behind other kids. 7hen, ?
years later, ,= years later, they will be droing o%t of s"hool and they will be doing dr%gs and
they will be ending % in $ail at great e'ense. 6ow long does it take %s to %nderstand that
investing in o%r "hildren, o%r yo%ngest "hildren, is enormo%sly imortant for o%r "o%ntryC !t is a
good investment. !t is m%"h better to invest in "hild"are than in keeing eole lo"ked % in $ails.
Seventy/five er"ent of Ameri"an yo%th who aly to the military are ineligible to serve
be"a%se of low "ognitive "aa"ities, "riminal re"ords, or obesity. 7his is 1%ite %nbelievable. Now
we are not only talking abo%t not being able to "omete internationally be"a%se we are not
bringing forth the kind of ed%"ated eole we need, be"a%se of the inade1%a"ies of o%r s"hools
and "hild"are and so forth//this almost be"omes a national se"%rity iss%e, if yo% like. Seventy/
five er"ent of Ameri"an yo%th who aly to the military are ineligible to serve be"a%se of low
"ognitive "aa"ities, "riminal re"ords, or obesity. !t gives me no ride, no hainess, to bring
forth these statisti"s. 3%t as a nation, we are going to have to gras these things. Either we "an
ignore these things, either we "an r%n away from reality, %t o%r heads %nderneath the "aret, or
we "an say we are not going to allow Ameri"a to be"ome a 7hird 0orld nation, that we are
going to t%rn this "o%ntry aro%nd.
3%t we are not going to t%rn the "o%ntry aro%nd %nless we rethink o%r riorities. &ne of o%r
riorities "annot be more ta' breaks for the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry.
#rom the ,@A=s to :==A, the Bnited States fell from first to ,.th o%t of :5 ind%strialiDed
nations in high s"hool grad%ation rates. 0hat haens in today4s e"onomy if a kid does not
grad%ate high s"hoolC !f my memory is "orre"t, abo%t -= er"ent of o%r kids//and ! know these
fig%res are f%DDy be"a%se it is hard to determine who is droing o%t and who is not, b%t my
%nderstanding is abo%t -= er"ent of o%r kids dro o%t of high s"hool. 0hat haens to those
kidsC 0here do they goC 6ow many of them end % in $ailC 6ow many of them do dr%gsC As a
nation, ! think we "an do a lot better than that. 0e sho%ld not have gone from first to ,.th o%t of
:5 ind%strialiDed nations in high s"hool grad%ation rates. Droo%ts are eight times more likely to
be in"ar"erated. !n other words, when kids fail in s"hool, they are going to end % in $ail//eight
times more likely. Eighty/two er"ent of those in rison are high s"hool droo%ts.
! will tell my "olleag%es a f%nny e'erien"e. ! was in 3%rlington last week. ! met this fellow.
6e "ame % and was "hatting with me. 6e said, ! $%st got o%t of $ail. 0hat str%"k me is he was a
well ed%"ated yo%ng man. 6e was very arti"%late. ! s%se"t he had gone to "ollege. 0hat str%"k
me is how rare that is, as the statisti"s atly demonstrate. 7he eole who end % in $ail
overwhelmingly are high s"hool droo%ts, eole who don4t have the ed%"ation to make it in the
world.
0hen we talk abo%t the need to s%bstantially in"rease f%nding for early "hildhood ed%"ation,
we sho%ld %nderstand that State/f%nded, re/F rograms "%rrently serve :5 er"ent of 5/year/
olds and 5 er"ent of -/year/olds. !n other words, there are millions of families who wo%ld like
to see their kids be able to a""ess good 1%ality "hild"are b%t "an4t find that in their States//again,
in "ontrast to giving ta' breaks to billionaires who don4t need it and in some "ases are not even
asking for it. 7he yo%nger the age of investment in h%man "aital, the higher the rate of ret%rn on
that investment. !f so"iety invests early eno%gh, it "an raise "ognitive and so"io/emotional levels
and the health of disadvantaged kids. &ne doesn4t need to be a sy"hologist to %nderstand that. !f
kids get off to a good start in life, if they have the intelle"t%al s%ort, the intelle"t%al
develoment, and the emotional s%ort, those kids are m%"h more likely to do well in s"hool,
m%"h less likely to dro o%t, m%"h less likely to be a b%rden on so"iety, m%"h less likely to end
% in $ail, m%"h less likely to do dr%gs, et "etera. 7his is an investment we sho%ld be making.
! wish to get ba"k for a moment to the agreement the President made with the Re%bli"an
leadershi and why ! think it is a bad agreement and why ! believe we "an do m%"h better. 7he
way we are going to imrove this agreement is when millions of eole all over this "o%ntry say,
wait a se"ond. 0ait a se"ond. 7his was an agreement rea"hed behind "losed doors. 7here are
Members in the 6o%se and the Senate who didn4t know abo%t the agreement. 0hat abo%t the
average Ameri"an o%t thereC ! wonder how many eole believe it makes a lot of sense, with a
+,-.> trillion national debt, to be giving h%ge ta' breaks to the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntryC
! have to tell my "olleag%es, the "alls in my offi"e are "oming @., @@ er"ent to , against these
agreements. Peole think we "an do better and o%r $ob is to do better. 7he way we do better is
when eole all over this "o%ntry stand % and say, 0ait a min%te, 2ongress. (o%r $ob is to
reresent the middle "lass, to reresent o%r kids, and not to reresent the wealthiest eole in this
"o%ntry.
! mentioned earlier, ! think "ertainly one of the ma$or ob$e"tions to this agreement is that it
rovides tens of billions of dollars to the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry at a time when the ri"h
are already doing henomenally well and at a time when the wealthiest eole have already
e'erien"ed h%ge ta' breaks. ! think most eole think that does not make sense. *et me give an
e'amle, not to i"k on arti"%lar individ%als//that is not my goal//b%t so we know this.
A""ording to the 2itiDens for 7a' G%sti"e, if the 3%sh ta' breaks for the to : er"ent are
e'tended, these are some of the eole who will benefit and what kind of benefits they will
re"eive8 R%ert M%rdo"h, the 2E& of News 2ororation, wo%ld re"eive a +,.- million ta' break
ne't year. Mr. M%rdo"h is a billionaire. Do we really think he needs thatC Gamie Dimon, the head
of GPMorgan 2hase, whose bank got a +:@ billion bailo%t from the #ederal Reserve, will re"eive
a +,., million ta' break. 7r%st me, Gamie Dimon, the head of GPMorgan 2hase, is doing $%st fine.
Vikram Pandit, the 2E& of 2itigro%, the bank that got a +?= billion bailo%t, wo%ld re"eive
+>.?,=== in ta' breaks. Fen *ewis, the former 2E& of 3ank of Ameri"a//a bank that got a +5?
billion bailo%t//the g%y is already fab%lo%sly wealthy//wo%ld re"eive a +>,-,=== ta' break. 7he
2E& of 0ells #argo//these are the largest banks in Ameri"a) the 2E&s of these banks are
already making h%ge "omensation. Gohn St%mf, who is the 2E& of 0ells #argo, wo%ld
re"eive a +-,.,=== ta' break every single year. 7he 2E& of Morgan Stanley, Gohn Ma"k, whose
bank got a +,= billion bailo%t, wo%ld re"eive a +@:A,=== a year ta' break. 7he 2E& of Aetna,
Ronald 0illiams, wo%ld re"eive a ta' break worth +.>?,===.
! "ontrast that, as ! did earlier, to the fa"t that : days ago, the Presiding &ffi"er and ! and a total
of ?- Members of the Senate said, (o% know, maybe we sho%ld rovide a +:?= "he"k this year
to seniors on So"ial Se"%rity and to disabled vets be"a%se they haven4t gotten a 2&*A for :
years//a +:?= "he"k. Peole making +,5,===, +,?,=== a year deserately need a little bit of hel.
0e "o%ldn4t get one Re%bli"an vote. 3%t when it "omes to the 2E& of a ma$or bank who is
already a m%ltimillionaire//we are talking abo%t +A million, +> million, +. million a year in ta'
breaks//that is not what we sho%ld be doing as a nation.
#%rthermore, ! know President &bama and others have said, 0ell, let4s not worry, be"a%se
these ta' breaks are $%st temorary//$%st temorary. 7hey are only going to be given for : years.
! have been in 0ashington long eno%gh to know that when yo% give a temorary ta' break for :
years, yo% are, in fa"t, giving a long/term ta' break or maybe even a ermanent ta' break.
3e"a%se : years from now, the e'a"t same arg%ments will be made8 if yo% do away with those
ta' breaks for the ri"h, yo% are raising ta'es. Do yo% want to raise ta'es, a terrible thing to doC
7hat same arg%ment will be made.
3%t there is one differen"e. 7he differen"e is that when President &bama ran for President and
sin"e he has been President, he has time and time again "ome o%t against those ta' breaks. 6e
does not believe in them. ! believe him, and ! know that he doesn4t. 3%t if he is the Demo"rati"
"andidate for President and he says8 Reele"t me to be President be"a%se in the f%t%re ! am going
to really get rid of these ta' breaks, ! am afraid his "redibility is not very high be"a%se that is
what he said last time. ! g%ess there is a limit as to how many times yo% "an "ry wolf.
;Mr. *EV!N ass%med the 2hair.<
Mr. SANDERS. !f these ta' breaks for the wealthiest eole are e'tended for : years, there is a
strong likelihood they will be e'tended for many years beyond those : and erhas even
ermanently. 7hat brings %s ba"k to the 3%sh/era nonsense of believing that ta' breaks for the
ri"h and tri"kle/down e"onomi"s are going to hel the middle/"lass and working families of this
"o%ntry.
0hile the ersonal in"ome ta' iss%e and e'tending them for the to : er"ent has re"eived a lot
of national attention, what has not gotten a whole lot of dis"%ssion is that that is not the only
%nfair and abs%rd ta' roosal o%t there. 7he agreement str%"k between the President and the
Re%bli"an leadershi "ontin%es the 3%sh era ,? er"ent ta' rate on "aital gains and dividends,
meaning those eole who make their living off of their investments will "ontin%e to ay a
s%bstantially lower ta' rate than firemen, tea"hers, and n%rses. So if yo% are a wealthy erson
and yo% earn money from dividends//! believe the overwhelming ma$ority of those "aital gains
a""r%e to the to , er"ent//yo% are going to be aying a ta' on that in"ome of ,? er"ent, whi"h
is less than yo% ay if yo% are a fireman, a oli"e offi"er, a tea"her, or a n%rse. So what we are
doing there is e'tending not only the ersonal in"ome ta' breaks for the very ri"h b%t a host of
other ta'es as well.
&n to of all of that//and ! know many of my "olleag%es have i"ked % on this and are
e'tremely %set, and ! think that is one of the reasons the Demo"rats in the 6o%se $%st yesterday
said they don4t want to bring this roosal to the floor for a vote//this agreement in"l%des a
horrendo%s roosal regarding the estate ta'.
7he estate ta' is a roosal 7eddy Roosevelt talked abo%t in the year ,@=A. !t was event%ally
ena"ted in ,@,A. 6ere is what 7eddy Roosevelt said abo%t this iss%e in A%g%st of ,@=A//and it is
worth reeating this be"a%se what the roosal str%"k between the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi does is lower the estate ta' s%bstantially. 6ere is what 7eddy Roosevelt said in ,@=A8
7he absen"e of effe"tive State, and, ese"ially, national, restraint %on %nfair money/getting
has tended to "reate a small "lass of enormo%sly wealthy and e"onomi"ally owerf%l men, whose
"hief ob$e"t is to hold and in"rease their ower. .....
7his is 7eddy Roosevelt, who by then had served as President of the Bnited States.
6e "ontin%ed8
No man sho%ld re"eive a dollar %nless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar re"eived
sho%ld reresent a dollar4s worth of servi"e rendered//not gambling in sto"ks, b%t servi"e
rendered.
7his g%y was retty roheti" ba"k in ,@,=.
6e "ontin%es8
7he really big fort%ne, the swollen fort%ne, by the mere fa"t of its siDe a"1%ires 1%alities whi"h
differentiated in kind as well as in degree from what is assed by men of relatively small means.
7herefore, ! believe in a grad%ated inheritan"e ta' on big fort%nes roerly safeg%arded against
evasion and in"reasing raidly in amo%nt with the siDe of the estate.
0ow, 7eddy Roosevelt hit the nail on the head. 7hat was ,== years ago. 6e was worried that a
small gro% of eole with in"redible money wo%ld be able to ass that money on, and what yo%
wo%ld "reate wo%ld be an oligar"hi" form of government with a small n%mber of eole not $%st
holding e"onomi" ower b%t signifi"ant oliti"al ower.
!t is ironi" that, right now, as a res%lt of the disastro%s 2itiDens Bnited de"ision, what
Roosevelt foretold, redi"ted, is e'a"tly what is haening. (o% have a handf%l of billionaires
now sitting aro%nd de"iding how m%"h of their fort%ne they are going to invest in oliti"al
"amaigns all over this "o%ntry to defeat eole like me who are oosed to their agenda and
s%ort other eole who are in agreement with it. 7hat is what Roosevelt talked abo%t. 7hat is
e'a"tly what is haening.
So what we are looking at in this roosal is a sit%ation where the estate ta' rate, whi"h was ??
er"ent %nder President 2linton, will de"line to -? er"ent, with an e'emtion on the first +?
million of an individ%al4s estate, +,= million er "o%le. 6ere is the imortant oint that has to be
made. ! think a lot of eole don4t %nderstand this. 2ertainly, o%r Re%bli"an friends have done a
very good $ob in distorting reality on this one. 7here are millions of Ameri"ans who believe that
when they die, their "hildren will have to ay an estate ta'. 7hat is absol%tely and "ategori"ally
in"orre"t. As this "hart shows, only a tiny fra"tion of estates from deaths in :==@ owed any estate
ta'. 7hat n%mber is abo%t .:5 er"ent. *ess than three/tenths of , er"ent of Ameri"an families
aid any ta' on the estates they were left. So @@.> er"ent of Ameri"an families did not ay one
"ent in estate ta'es. 7hat is the simle tr%th. 7he so/"alled death ta' o%r Re%bli"an friends talk
abo%t a whole lot is the estate ta', and @@.> er"ent of families don4t ay a ni"kel on it. 7he
eole who do ay are not the ri"h) they are the very, very ri"h.
*et me give yo% one e'amle of the abs%rdity of lowering the ta' rate or, even worse, ending
the estate ta', as some of o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es wo%ld like to do. 6ere is this "hart. &ne
e'amle of what//well, this agreement doesn4t do that) it lowers the rates. !f they were to wie it
o%t "omletely, as Re%bli"ans want to do, 0almart owners, Sam 0alton4s family, the heirs to
the 0almart fort%ne, whi"h is worth//well, it may be more or less now, b%t it is abo%t +.A
billion. &ne family is worth +.A billion. 7hey are doing retty good. !f we abolish the estate ta',
as o%r Re%bli"an friends wo%ld have %s do, the 0alton family alone wo%ld re"eive an estimated
+-:.> billion ta' break, if the estate ta' was "omletely reealed//one family, +-:.> billion. 7his
is atently insane. 7his is insane. !nsane.
0e have the highest rate of "hildhood overty in the ind%strialiDed world. 0e have massive
%nemloyment. ! am trying to get seniors//?=/l%s million eole//a +:?= "he"k, by the way,
be"a%se we have not seen a 2&*A for the last : years for seniors and disabled vets. 7hat wo%ld
"ost, in , year, abo%t +,5 billion. 7he 0alton family itself wo%ld get more than do%ble in a ta'
break what some of %s are fighting for for over ?= million seniors and disabled vets. 0e "an4t
afford to give +,5 billion to hel some of the eole in this "o%ntry who are str%ggling the
hardest. 0e "annot do that, b%t somehow we "an afford to give +-:.> billion in ta' breaks to one
of the ri"hest families in this "o%ntry. !f that makes sense to anybody, lease "all my offi"e. !t
doesn4t make sense to me, and ! don4t think it makes sense to the vast ma$ority of the Ameri"an
eole.
Bnder this agreement, the estate ta' rate, whi"h was ?? er"ent %nder President 2linton, will
de"line to -? er"ent, with an e'emtion on the first +? million of an individ%al4s estate, +,=
million for "o%les. *et4s remember again that this ta' alies only to the to three/tenths of ,
er"ent of the families in this "o%ntry. 7his is not $%st a ta' break for the ri"h) it is a ta' break for
the very, very ri"h.
Again, this agreement says we are only going to e'tend this for : years. 0ell, frankly, ! do%bt
that very m%"h. ! s%se"t that : years from now the same arg%ment will be made. 7hey will be
e'tending it. #rankly, o%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es, reresenting the ri"hest eole in the world,
are hell/bent on abolishing the estate ta' "omletely.
7hose are some of the reasons ! think we sho%ld be voting against this agreement.
7hird//and this is an iss%e ! have been talking abo%t, and ! am hay to hear there is more
dis"%ssion abo%t this in the last few days//is the so/"alled ayroll ta' holiday. 0hat that is abo%t
is that this wo%ld "%t +,:= billion in So"ial Se"%rity ayroll ta' for workers. &n the s%rfa"e, this
so%nds like a very good idea be"a%se the worker, instead of aying A.: er"ent into So"ial
Se"%rity, ays 5.: er"ent. !f yo% think abo%t it for : se"onds, yo% really %nderstand that it is not
a good idea be"a%se this is money being diverted from the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd.
So"ial Se"%rity, in my view, has been the most s%""essf%l #ederal rogram in erhas the
history of o%r "o%ntry. !n the last >? years, whether in good or bad times, So"ial Se"%rity has
aid o%t every ni"kel owed to every eligible Ameri"an. 7oday, So"ial Se"%rity has a +:.A trillion
s%rl%s. 7oday, So"ial Se"%rity "an ay o%t benefits for the ne't :@ years. &%r goal, and what we
m%st do, is make s%re we e'tend it beyond :@ years, for the ne't >? years. 0ell, if we divert
+,:= billion from the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd and give it to workers today, what yo% are doing
is "%tting ba"k the viability//the long/term viability//of So"ial Se"%rity.
7hat is not $%st 3ernie Sanders raising this iss%e. 7here are many eole reresenting millions
of senior "itiDens who are deely "on"erned abo%t this roosal//this rovision in the agreement
between the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi.
7he National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are is one of the very largest
senior gro%s in Ameri"a. 7hey do a very good $ob. 0e have many seniors in Vermont who are
members of this organiDation. 7heir $ob is to do what the title of the organiDation s%ggests, whi"h
is to reserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are. G%st the other day, they sent o%t a news release, and
the title of the news release was EE2%tting 2ontrib%tions to So"ial Se"%rity Signals the 3eginning
of the End) Payroll 7a' 6oliday is Anything 3%t.44
*et me 1%ote from 3arbara Fennelly, a former member of 2ongress, who is the resident and
2E& of the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are.
Even tho%gh So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%ted nothing to the "%rrent e"onomi" "risis, it has been
bartered in a deal that rovides defi"it/b%sting ta' "%ts for the wealthy. Diverting +,:= billion in
So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%tions for a so/"alled ta' holiday may so%nd like a good deal for workers
now, b%t it is bad b%siness for the rogram that a ma$ority of middle/"lass seniors will rely %on
in the f%t%re.
7hat, again, is a 1%ote from 3arbara Fennelly, President and 2E& of the National 2ommittee
to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are.
Mr. President, ! think many of %s sho%ld %nderstand where this "on"et originated. 7his is not
a rogressive idea. 7his is an idea that "ame from Re%bli"ans and "onservatives who want to
end So"ial Se"%rity. ! want to read an interesting 1%ote from a gentleman named 3r%"e 3artlett.
Mr. 3artlett was a former to adviser to Presidents Reagan and 9eorge 6.0. 3%sh. 7his is what
he wrote in oosition to this ayroll ta' "%t.
0hat are the odds that Re%bli"ans will ever allow this ,/year ta' holiday to e'ireC 7hey
wrote the 3%sh ta' "%ts with e'li"it e'iration dates. 7hen, when it "ame time for the law they
wrote to take effe"t, e'a"tly as they wrote it, they said any fail%re to e'tend them ermanently
wo%ld "onstit%te the biggest ta' in"rease in history.
So what Mr. 3artlett is saying//and ! will go ba"k to his 1%ote in a se"ond//is what we all know
to be tr%e) that aro%nd here, in 2ongress, if yo% rovide a ta' break for , year//in this "ase a
ayroll ta' holiday//a year from now, if yo% restore the old rates//whi"h are A.: er"ent//o%r
Re%bli"an friends are going to say Demo"rats are raising yo%r ta'es. !t EEain4t44 gonna haen.
7his ,/year e'tension "o%ld well be"ome a ermanent e'tension, and if it be"omes a ermanent
e'tension, yo% are diverting a h%ge amo%nt of money from So"ial Se"%rity and yo% are
weakening the entire finan"ial str%"t%re of So"ial Se"%rity in this "o%ntry, whi"h ! e'e"t is
e'a"tly what some wo%ld like to do.
President &bama says8 0ell, not to worry. !t is only , year. Don4t worry, that , year is going to
be "overed by the #ederal 9overnment.
So for the very first time, o%t of the 7reas%ry Deartment, money is going to "ome into So"ial
Se"%rity, whi"h has always been ,== er"ent deendent, as it sho%ld be, on ayroll ta'es. #or the
first time, we are breaking that. Aro%nd here yo% do it on"e and it is going to "ontin%e.
3arbara Fennelly, the President of the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and
Medi"are, says8
2%tting these "ontrib%tions to So"ial Se"%rity signals the beginning of the end.
So we sho%ld be very, very, very mindf%l of that. 0e sho%ld not s%ort this ayroll ta'. !t is
one of the more dangero%s rovisions in this agreement.
3%t let me get ba"k now, if ! might, to what 3r%"e 3artlett//a former to adviser for Presidents
Reagan and 9eorge 6.0. 3%sh//re"ently wrote8
!f allowing the 3%sh ta' "%ts to e'ire is the biggest ta' in"rease in history//one that
Re%bli"ans "laim wo%ld de"imate a still fragile e"onomy//then s%rely the e'iration of a ayroll
ta' holiday wo%ld also "onstit%te a massive ta' in"rease on the working eole of Ameri"a.
Re%bli"ans wo%ld refer to destroy So"ial Se"%rity4s finan"es or ermanently f%nd it with
general reven%es than allow a on"e/s%sended ayroll ta' to be reimosed. Ar"h So"ial Se"%rity
hater Peter #errara on"e told me that f%nding it with general reven%es was art of his lan to
destroy it by "onverting So"ial Se"%rity into a welfare rogram rather than an earned benefit.
&n"e again, that is a 1%ote from 3r%"e 3artlett, a former adviser to President Reagan and the
first President 3%sh. So what he is saying is//and this is maybe one of the sleeing iss%es in this
agreement between the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi//we may be taking a h%ge ste
forward in destroying the most imortant rogram in this "o%ntry//whi"h is So"ial Se"%rity//by
diverting now +,:= billion, and in the f%t%re h%ndreds and h%ndreds of billions of dollars from
this rogram so that, in fa"t, it will not be there for o%r kids and o%r grand"hildren.
Mr. President, the fo%rth oint ! want to make in oosition to this agreement//and one that !
have made before and read a little bit abo%t//is that while some of the b%siness ta'es in this
agreement may work to "reate $obs, some of them won4t. 7he more imortant oint is that
e"onomists on both ends of the oliti"al se"tr%m believe the better way to s%r the e"onomy and
to "reate the millions and millions of $obs we m%st "reate is to reb%ild o%r "r%mbling
infrastr%"t%re.
G%st a few min%tes ago ! read e'"erts from a very good book by a friend of mine, Arianna
6%ffington, entitled EE7hird 0orld Ameri"a.44 7he %rose of her book was to give %s a warning
that if we as a nation do not get o%r a"t together in a variety of ways, in"l%ding o%r hysi"al
infrastr%"t%re, we are headed down the ike to be a 7hird 0orld nation.
A""ording to the Ameri"an So"iety of 2ivil Engineers, we as a nation need to send +:.:
trillion in the ne't ? years alone in order to take "are of o%r infrastr%"t%re needs.
Bnfort%nately, this agreement, signed by the President and the Re%bli"ans, doesn4t %t one
enny into infrastr%"t%re. So if we are serio%s abo%t "reating $obs, if we are serio%s abo%t making
s%re o%r e"onomy "an be "ometitive in the global e"onomy, we have to be wat"hing what other
"o%ntries are doing, and they are investing far more than we are.
7he stim%l%s a"kage, by the way, will hel %s very m%"h in Vermont in this area. Right now,
if yo% were to drive aro%nd the State of Vermont//and ! think in many other la"es in this
"o%ntry//and yo% took o%t yo%r "ell hone, yo% wo%ld find it very hard to make "alls in a n%mber
of areas of the State. A few months ago, ! was literally a mile and a half away from o%r State
"aital in Montelier, near Northfield, V7. ! "o%ld not make a telehone "all with my "ell hone.
7hat is tr%e in many arts of Vermont and in many areas of Ameri"a. 0e are lagging behind
many other "o%ntries in terms of the a""essibility of "ell hone servi"e and broadband//and
broadband.
So ! am hay to say that in Vermont we re"eived a very genero%s grant thro%gh the stim%l%s
a"kage that will hel %s, and other States did the same. 3%t those are areas where we have to
invest. (o% have to invest in broadband and make s%re "ell hone servi"e is available in r%ral
Ameri"a//all over Ameri"a. ! talked a moment ago abo%t o%r train servi"es. 7here are train
servi"es today whi"h are worse than they were -= or 5= years ago. !t takes longer to get from
destination A to destination 3. 2hina is investing h%ge s%ms of money b%ilding high/seed rail at
a rate that we "o%ld not even dream abo%t.
So while in this agreement we do have money for b%siness ta' "%ts, ! do not think that is the
best way to invest ta'ayer money if we are serio%s abo%t "reating the $obs that we need.
2ororate Ameri"a already is sitting on "lose to +: trillion "ash on hand. ! don4t know that more
ta' breaks are going to hel them very m%"h. ! think that it is a lot smarter//and ! think most
e"onomists agree with me//to be investing in o%r infrastr%"t%re, both to "reate $obs now and to
imrove o%r "ometitiveness in years to "ome.
#%rther, Mr. President, ! want to say a word on this//! mentioned this earlier today8 President
&bama talks abo%t this being a "omromise agreement) yo% "an4t get everything yo% want. !
"ertainly %nderstand that. 3%t one of the ase"ts of the "omromise he oints to is an e'tension
of %nemloyment benefits for ,- months. 0ell, let me be very "lear. ! think at a time when :
million of o%r fellow Ameri"ans are abo%t to lose their %nemloyment, at a time when
%nemloyment is e'traordinarily high//long/term %nemloyment is, ! think, higher than at any
oint on re"ord, with eole looking for work month after month after month and not finding it//
it wo%ld be morally %na""etable if this "o%ntry did not e'tend %nemloyment benefits for those
workers for ,- months. (et the President sees this as a great sign of "omromise.
! wo%ld arg%e the "ontrary. ! wo%ld s%ggest to yo% that for the ast 5= years, %nder both
Demo"rati" and Re%bli"an administrations and %nder Demo"rati" and Re%bli"an leadershi in
the Senate or in the 6o%se, whenever the %nemloyment rate has been above >.: er"ent,
%nemloyment ins%ran"e has always been e'tended. !n other words, this has been a biartisan
oli"y for 5= years. ! don4t want to see %s seeing and a""eting as a really great give on the art
of Re%bli"ans//something that they are giving %s as art of a "omromise//when it has been
biartisan oli"y for 5= years %nder Demo"rati" and Re%bli"an leadershi. So ! don4t a""et this
as a great gift. ! think the Ameri"an eole %nderstand yo% don4t t%rn yo%r ba"ks on %nemloyed
workers//eole who have been %nemloyed for long eriods of time. (o% don4t allow those
eole to lose their homes. (o% don4t for"e these eole o%t into the streets. (o% don4t take away
what shreds of dignity they have remaining. 7hat is not what yo% do. 7hat has always been
Re%bli"an hilosohy as well as Demo"rati" hilosohy. 7his is not a great gift. So ! do not
a""et this is a "omromise.
*et me be very "lear. As ! said earlier, ! do believe there are ositive arts of this agreement
that m%st be maintained as we move forward toward a better agreement. *et me "ite some of
them that make a lot of sense to me and that ! believe we have to retain and b%ild on.
7he obvio%s one, in addition to e'tending %nemloyment benefits, is we have to e'tend
middle/"lass ta' "%ts for @. er"ent of Ameri"ans. As ! have been do"%menting over and over
again today, we are looking at a sit%ation where the middle "lass in this "o%ntry is "ollasing.
Bnder President 3%sh, the median family in"ome went down by +:,:==. Peole are losing their
health "are. !t wo%ld be asinine, it wo%ld be %na""etable if the middle "lass did not "ontin%e to
re"eive the ta' breaks that were develoed in :==, and :==-. 7hat, to a large degree, is what this
fight is abo%t. 0e have to e'tend those ta' breaks to the middle "lass b%t not ta' breaks to the
millionaires and billionaires.
#%rther, there are some other good rovisions in this agreement//the earned/in"ome ta' "redit
for working Ameri"ans and the "hild and "ollege ta' "redits//and they are very imortant. 7hey
will kee millions of o%r fellow Ameri"ans from sliing o%t of the middle "lass and into
overty, and they will allow millions of o%r fellow "itiDens to send their kids to "ollege.
! $%st talked a moment ago abo%t the fa"t that we have over ,==,=== families in this "o%ntry
where kids grad%ate high s"hool wanting to go to "ollege b%t "an4t afford to do so. 7his roosal
will hel them do that, and that is right.
3%t desite the fa"t there are some good and imortant rovisions in this roosal, when we
look at the overall a"kage, when we look at a +,-.> trillion national debt and a de"lining middle
"lass, ! think what we have to say is this a"kage $%st doesn4t do it. !t is $%st not good eno%gh.
7he President says he knows how to "o%nt votes. ! %nderstand that. 6e says8 0ell, yo% had a
"o%le of votes here to make s%re that we wo%ld not give ta' breaks to millionaires. And the
President has been very "lear he does not want to do that. ! %nderstand that. 3%t he says8 0hat
"hoi"e do ! haveC
! think the answer is that we have to fight this iss%e. !n my view, the sol%tion %ltimately will
not be resolved inside the beltway, in the Senate or in the 6o%se. !t will be resolved when
millions of Ameri"ans get on their telehones, get on their "om%ters, and let their Senators and
their Members of the 6o%se of Reresentatives know they are rofo%ndly o%traged that at a time
when the ri"h never had it so good, and when we have a h%ge national debt, this agreement
"ontains h%ge ta' breaks for those eole who don4t need it. 7hat is how we defeat this.
! am not s%re that all alone here in the debate ! am going to t%rn any of my Re%bli"an or even
some Demo"rati" "olleag%es aro%nd.
3%t ! do believe that, if eole all over this "o%ntry stand % and say8 0ait a min%te, how m%"h
do the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry wantC ! $%st do"%mented a few moments ago that the to 5==
wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry saw a do%bling of their in"ome %nder President 3%sh//a
do%bling of their in"ome//and ta' rates went down. 0hen is eno%gh eno%ghC 6ow m%"h do they
needC
! think and ! wo%ld hoe, by the way, that this is "ertainly not $%st a rogressive iss%e. ! am a
rogressive. 7his is a "onservative iss%e. (ear after year, ! have heard o%r "onservative friends
telling %s8 My goodness, we $%st "annot "ontin%e to raise the national debt) we have to do
something abo%t this %ns%stainable defi"it. 7his agreement grows, in"reases the national debt.
0hat kind of honest "onservative "an vote to in"rease the national debtC And if they do, lease,
no more le"t%res here on the floor of the Senate. (o%r hyo"risy will be known to everybody.
Don4t tell %s yo% are "on"erned abo%t the national debt and give ta' breaks to billionaires and
raise the national debt so o%r kids and grand"hildren in the middle "lass will have to ay higher
ta'es in order to ay off the debt that was "a%sed by yo% giving ta' breaks to millionaires.
Please, no more le"t%res on that iss%e. G%st say8 &F, ri"h eole "ontrib%ted to my "amaign) !
have to do what they want. 7hat will be honest. Please, no more le"t%res abo%t yo%r "on"ern
abo%t the national debt.
Again, ! want to reiterate this oint. Everybody says8 Don4t worry, these are only : years.
7hese are not, in my view, : years. !f yo% do them for : years, the same old arg%ment will be
ba"k : years from now, and we will be in the midst of a Presidential ele"tion. 0hat o%r
Re%bli"an friends will say, as s%re as ! am standing here//and ! am glad we have a gentleman
%tting this in the Con"ressional Record. ! want eole to go ba"k to the Con"ressional Record.
! am s%re ! will be roven right that : years from now o%r Re%bli"an friends will "ome ba"k and
they will say8 &h, my word, if yo% reeal these ta' breaks, yo% are going to be raising ta'es. 0e
"an4t do that.
0hat will make the sit%ation even more diffi"%lt : years from now than today is yo% have
President &bama//if he is the Demo"rati" "andidate : years from now, he will say8 ! don4t
believe in these ta' breaks for the ri"h, and ! will do my best to reeal them. 3%t his "redibility
has been damaged be"a%se that is what he said in the last "amaign. 7hat is what he has been
saying all along. 7he President does not believe in e'tending these ta' breaks for the wealthy. !
know that. Everybody knows that. 3%t if he "aves in now, who is going to believe he is not going
to do the same thing : years from nowC 7hat is the damage.
7hen ! think what is even more tro%blesome is that on"e we move down the ath of more ta'
breaks for the very wealthy, we are a""eting the heart and so%l of tri"kle/down e"onomi"s,
whi"h has been, to my mind, a roven disaster, a fail%re. ! remind the listeners and my
"olleag%es that these ta' breaks have been in e'isten"e sin"e :==,. 7hey were in e'isten"e
thro%gho%t almost all of President 3%sh4s ten%re. 7he end res%lt was that we lost A==,=== rivate
se"tor $obs//lost A==,=== rivate se"tor $obs, the worst $ob erforman"e re"ord maybe in the
history of this "o%ntry. 7ri"kle/down e"onomi"s does not work.
9iving ta' breaks to billionaires does not stim%late the e"onomy. 6eling working families
and the middle "lass get de"ent $obs and ta' breaks for eole who need the money and are going
to send the money is what "reates $obs, not giving ta' breaks to billionaires who do not need it
and who are not going to send it.
Again, the oint ! want to make here is that if eole think, oh, this is $%st temorary, this is
$%st : years, ! believe they are kidding themselves. ! believe that : years from now, the debate
will be abo%t e'tending them or erhas even making them ermanent.
At a time, as ! mentioned earlier, where the to , er"ent has seen a h%ge in"rease in the
er"entage of in"ome they earn in this "o%ntry//going from . er"ent in the ,@>=s to :-.?
er"ent now//and where the to , er"ent now earns more in"ome than the bottom ?= er"ent, it
is totally abs%rd to be giving ta' breaks to eole who do not need them, and it is not good
e"onomi"s, as well.
6ere is the other irony, as ! also mentioned earlier//! g%ess by this time, ! am going to be doing
a little reetition here. 3%t as ! mentioned earlier, yo% have a n%mber of millionaires and some of
the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry who will benefit from these ta' breaks. Do yo% know what they
are sayingC Do yo% know what 0arren 3%ffett is sayingC Do yo% know what 3ill 9ates is
sayingC Do yo% know what 3en 2ohen from 3en K Gerry4s is sayingC Do yo% know what many
other wealthy eole are sayingC 6ey, thanks very m%"h) ! don4t need it. !t is more imortant that
yo% invest in o%r "hildren. !t is more imortant that we rote"t working families. 0e are doing
$%st fine, thanks. &%r in"omes have soared, o%r ta' rates have gone down, and we don4t need it.
!n other words, we have this abs%rd sit%ation that not only is this bad %bli" oli"y, we are
a"t%ally for"ing ta' breaks on eole who don4t need them and don4t even want them. 7he ri"hest
eole in this "o%ntry//3ill 9ates, 0arren 3%ffett//we don4t want it.
6ere is something else. 6ere is something else that needs to be %nderstood. 0hat the
Re%bli"ans are doing in this agreement is driving % the national debt. (o% may think that is not
what the Re%bli"ans really believe in. 7hey are s%osed to be "onservatives. 7hey don4t want a
high national debt. 0hy wo%ld they be giving ta' breaks to the ri"h and driving % the national
debtC 7here is a rationale. 7hese g%ys are not d%mb, and ! think they know what they are doing.
6ere is what the arg%ment is. !f yo% drive % the national debt and the defi"it, yo% then "ome
ba"k to the floor of the Senate and yo% say8 (o% know what, this national debt and defi"it is
%ns%stainable. 7he only way we "an deal with it now is by "%tting, "%tting, "%tting. 0e are
already beginning to hear how some of those tho%ghts are going to develo.
7here was, as yo% know, a defi"it red%"tion "ommission aointed by the President. 0hen !
heard who was going to be "hairing that "ommission and "o"hairing it//Alan Simson, a very
ni"e gentleman b%t a very "onservative gentleman who has atta"ked So"ial Se"%rity for a very
long eriod of time, and Erskine 3owles, a "onservative Demo"rat//! had serio%s do%bts abo%t
what was going to "ome o%t of that "ommission. 7he good news is, they needed ,5 votes to ass
their re"ommendations and they didn4t get the ,5. 3%t a lot of the ideas that Senator Simson and
Mr. 3owles develoed are going to be filtering aro%nd this instit%tion.
0hat the Re%bli"ans will say is that when yo% have a h%ge debt//whi"h they heled "reate//
we are going to have to "%t. 0hat are we going to have to doC As yo% re"all, that defi"it
red%"tion "ommission re"ommended a savage "%t//over := er"ent//in So"ial Se"%rity benefits
for yo%ng workers//ma$or "%ts. 7here was talk abo%t raising the So"ial Se"%rity age % to, !
think, A@. 7hey are talking abo%t "%ts in Medi"are, "%ts in Medi"aid, "%ts in ed%"ation.
Right now//! think ! have do"%mented it a doDen times//it is a horrendo%s sit%ation when so
many of o%r yo%ng eole "annot afford to go to "ollege, and the others who do go to "ollege
and grad%ate end % on average something like +:?,=== in debt. 7hese g%ys on the defi"it
red%"tion "ommission were re"ommending that the interest on that debt be a""r%ed while
st%dents are in "ollege.
6ere we have %s sliing behind the rest of the world in terms of o%r er"entage of "ollege
grad%ates, and this re"ommendation is on yo%ng eole, who do not have a lot of money, who
were borrowing money, that they will have to ay more to go to "ollege. (o% are going to see it.
6ere is the arg%ment//good, it is going to be in the Con"ressional Record. 2he"k it o%t, see if !
am right. 7he arg%ment will be8 7he defi"it is going %, the national debt is going %. 0e have to
atta"k and "%t So"ial Se"%rity, Medi"are, Medi"aid, veterans rograms.
7his year//Senator Landrieu from *o%isiana made this oint a little while ago//and ! think this
is ro%ghly right//o%r soldiers, men and women in the Armed #or"es, are going to get a ,../
er"ent in"rease in their salaries this year, ,.. er"ent for eole %tting their lives on the line to
defend this "o%ntry. A +:?= "he"k for ?=/l%s million seniors and disabled vets//we
"o%ldn4t ass it) too m%"h money//+,5 billion. 7hey are going to "ome ba"k and "%t and "%t in
the name of trying to deal with the high defi"it whi"h they are now in"reasing. 7hat is an iss%e
we m%st be addressing.
!n my view, while there are some good arts of the roosal, it is "ertainly one that sho%ld be
signifi"antly imroved. ! believe the way it "an be imroved is by the Ameri"an eole
beginning to get involved in the ro"ess.
! "an tell yo%, as ! said earlier, ! don4t know how the "alls are going today in my offi"e be"a%se
! have been here, b%t for the last - days, we have re"eived tho%sands of hone "alls and e/mails,
and over @. er"ent of them have been against this roosal. 7he Ameri"an eole believe, the
eole in Vermont believe we "an do a lot better $ob in "rafting a roosal that reresents the
middle "lass and o%r kids and not $%st the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry.
0hen we talk abo%t this roosal negotiated by the 0hite 6o%se and Re%bli"an leadershi,
again, it has to be %t within the broad "onte't of what is going on in Ameri"a. 7hat "onte't is
not a retty i"t%re. 7hat "onte't re1%ires %s to %nderstand that the middle "lass, whi"h has been
the ba"kbone of this "o%ntry for so very long, is in the ro"ess of disaearing. 7hat "onte't
makes %s %nderstand that millions of families in this "o%ntry are worried, arents are worried,
not $%st abo%t their own lives//they are reared to work ?= or A= ho%rs a week) they are
reared to "%t ba"k on their own needs. ! think what is h%rting them more deely is the kind of
f%t%re they are "ontemlating for their "hildren. 7hey are worried that, for the first time in the
modern history of Ameri"a, their kids will get $obs that will ay them lower salaries than what
the arents have earned. 7hey are worried that %nemloyment will be m%"h more likely for their
kids than for themselves. 7hey are worried that while they were able to s"rae thro%gh//in my
"ase, ! was able to s"rae thro%gh "ollege. ! borrowed some money, did some $obs, and made it
like millions of other eole. 7hey are worried that with the high "ost of a "ollege ed%"ation and
the red%"tion in their real earnings, they are not going to be able to send their kids to "ollege. !
have re"eived e/mails//and ! am s%re yo% have, Mr. President//the saddest thing in the world,
where yo% have arents who are saying8 0e have saved all of o%r lives for the thing we wanted
the most, whi"h was to be able to send o%r son or da%ghter to "ollege, and we "an4t do that now.
7hat is the overall "onte't this agreement has to be la"ed within.
7he iss%e is, again and again, the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry do not need ta' breaks. 7hey
are doing henomenally well. 7hey have already been given h%ge amo%nts of ta' breaks. !t is the
middle "lass, it is the working families, it is the lower in"ome eole we have to be worrying
abo%t and not $%st the wealthy and the owerf%l.
0hen we talk abo%t why the middle "lass is de"lining, that is a to%gh iss%e. ! am not here to
s%ggest ! know all of the answers. ! s%rely don4t. !t is a "omli"ated iss%e. 6onest eole have
differen"es of oinion. 3%t let me to%"h on a few areas that ! think will e'lain why overty is
going % and the middle "lass is going down. &ne of them deals with o%r trade oli"ies.
! "an remember a n%mber of years ago ! was in the 6o%se of Reresentatives, and ! "an
remember the lobbyists and the big money interests "oming aro%nd and saying8 !f yo% g%ys only
ass NA#7A, this wo%ld "reate a whole lot of $obs in the Bnited States be"a%se we wo%ld be
able to shi rod%"ts made in Ameri"a to Me'i"o. !n fa"t, as ! re"all//it seems almost h%moro%s
now//what they said is8 !f we ass NA#7A, it wo%ld solve the roblem of illegal immigration
be"a%se the e"onomy of Me'i"o wo%ld be so strong that eole wo%ld stay in their own "o%ntry
and not try to sneak a"ross the border. 7hat is, as we look ba"k on it, somewhat h%moro%s, that
that iss%e was even dis"%ssed.
3%t one of the areas that, %nfort%nately, for a variety of reasons, we have not dealt with is o%r
disastro%s trade oli"y. 7hat is NA#7A) that is ermanent normal trade relations) that is trade
oli"ies whi"h have en"o%raged large "ororations in this "o%ntry to send $obs abroad be"a%se
they "an find workers in other "o%ntries, in low/wage "o%ntries, who are reared to work for
ennies an ho%r.
! think not only have we not addressed this iss%e from an e"onomi" erse"tive the way we
sho%ld, ! have to tell yo%, ! know that d%ring "amaigns, a lot of Members of 2ongress %t their
-=/se"ond ads on the air saying how "on"erned they are abo%t o%tso%r"ing and o%r trade oli"y.
3%t somehow, the day after the ele"tion, ! didn4t hear that dis"%ssion res%me on the floor of the
6o%se or the Senate. ! want to say this is tr%e not $%st of Re%bli"ans b%t of Demo"rats as well.
A lot of Demo"rats "amaign on the need for trade reform, b%t it does not haen. !n fa"t, !
have been here in the Senate now for almost 5 years. ! have not heard one serio%s//%nderline
EEserio%s44//dis"%ssion to e'lain how in re"ent years we have lost millions and millions of
man%fa"t%ring $obs, when those $obs were the ba"kbone of the working "lass of this "o%ntry, not
roviding only de"ent wages b%t de"ent benefits, de"ent health "are, de"ent ensions.
7here was on"e a time in this "o%ntry when a man%fa"t%ring $ob was a ti"ket to the middle
"lass. ! have to say something be"a%se ! remember not so many years ago, there were national
leaders saying8 0ell//to the yo%ng eole//yo% do not have to worry abo%t that fa"tory work
anymore. (o% do not have to be involved in rod%"tion be"a%se, yo% know what. All of the $obs
in the f%t%re are going to be ni"e and "lean in offi"es and on "om%ters.
! think we demeaned and ins%lted the eole who b%ilt the rod%"ts we "ons%med. 7here is
nothing wrong with a fa"tory $ob if workers there earn a de"ent wage and have a de"ent benefit.
7hose are the $obs that b%ilt Ameri"a. ! remember, and we sho%ld never forget//and we now have
"elebrated the anniversary of Pearl 6arbor. 7here was a see"h that President Roosevelt gave a
day after Pearl 6arbor, in a $oint session to the 2ongress, when he de"lared war on Gaan.
! saw a video of that see"h. !t was a remarkable see"h be"a%se, at that moment, at that
moment, the Bnited States was not only fighting Gaan, and we knew the fight with 9ermany and
NaDism was right aro%nd the "orner, at that oint we were having to fight a war on two fronts8 in
Asia and in E%roe. 6itler was on the mar"h) the Gaanese were in 2hina. 7he Gaanese had $%st
atta"ked Pearl 6arbor. 6ere we were, $%st abo%t to enter the war. 6ow "o%ld we ossibly win
that warC
(et be"a%se of the man%fa"t%ring "aabilities that we had at that time, and this is an amaDing
story, literally in : ,H: years the war was essentially won, obvio%sly not "omleted %ntil ,@5?.
3%t be"a%se of the in"redible ind%strial "aabilities in this "o%ntry, the ability to transform o%r
man%fa"t%ring se"tor from a "ons%mer/oriented se"tor, from a%tomobiles into tanks) from shirts
into %niforms) from h%nting rifles into ma"hine g%ns, within : or - years we had essentially won
that war. !t was an in"redible effort on the art of workers in this "o%ntry who transformed o%r
e"onomy into an ind%strial for"e that was able to s%ly o%r soldiers with the weaons that they
needed to defeat 6itler and the Gaanese.
0here are we today in terms of o%r man%fa"t%ring "aabilitiesC As ! mentioned earlier, a
"o%le of weeks ago, my wife and ! went shoing for 2hristmas resents, literally, in $%st a
lain old deartment store. !t is literally very hard to find a rod%"t not man%fa"t%red in 2hina. !t
is very hard to find a rod%"t, a gift that we "o%ld b%y that was man%fa"t%red in the Bnited States
of Ameri"a.
! think eole %nderstand instin"tively that this "o%ntry will not be a ma$or e"onomi" layer in
years to "ome if we allow o%r man%fa"t%ring base to "ontin%e to de"line. Again, $%st %nder 3%sh,
we went from ,> million man%fa"t%ring $obs down to ,: million $obs, in . years of 3%sh. 6ow
do we s%rvive as a strong ind%strial ower if o%r man%fa"t%ring $obs disaearC
7oday there are fewer man%fa"t%ring $obs in this "o%ntry than there were in Aril of ,@5,,
abo%t . months before the atta"k on Pearl 6arbor) fewer man%fa"t%ring $obs today than in Aril
of ,@5,. 7hose man%fa"t%ring $obs that are left//that are left//in many "ases ay lower wages,
with fewer benefits, than they did a generation ago.
!n other words, we are moving not only in a de"line in o%r man%fa"t%ring $obs b%t in the wages
o%r workers earn and the benefits they re"eive.
! raise all of these iss%es to %t this agreement between the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi in a broader "onte't. 7oday//and this is $%st an in"redible fa"t, and it is absol%tely
frightening to the f%t%re of the middle "lass in this "o%ntry//today, entry level a%tomobile
workers at 9eneral Motors and 2hrysler now earn half as m%"h, half as m%"h as their eers made
$%st , year ago. !nstead of making +:. an ho%r, a middle/"lass wage, they are now making +,5
an ho%r. 7his is in the a%tomobile ind%stry whi"h has always been the gold standard for
man%fa"t%ring $obs in Ameri"a. !f workers with a %nion in the a%tomobile ind%stry are making
+,5 an ho%r, what do yo% think workers in New Me'i"o are going to be making witho%t a strong
%nionC
So what yo% are seeing is a dissol%tion of the middle "lass, wages are going down, and in this
remarkable e'amle, a ?=/er"ent red%"tion) the older workers making good wages, new
workers half the wages.
!s this the f%t%re of Ameri"aC !s this what o%r kids have to look forward to, that they are going
to be earning half the wages their fathers made, that their mothers madeC !s that the f%t%reC !n the
midst of all of that, we r%n % a h%ge national debt, send o%r $obs to 2hina, and we give ta'
breaks to millionairesC !s that the f%t%re these kids have to look forward toC ! "ertainly hoe not.
0e are going to have to be to%gh, and we are going to have to take on some very owerf%l
se"ial interests to t%rn this whole thing aro%nd.
7oday ! have devoted a lot of time to o%r national debt, +,-.> trillion, and to o%r defi"it, whi"h
is +,.5 trillion. 3%t we "annot ignore o%r trade defi"it. !n :==., o%r trade defi"it was nearly +>==
billion. *ast year o%r trade defi"it with 2hina alone was almost +::> billion. !n other words, we
are %r"hasing a whole lot more rod%"ts than we are selling.
Sometimes ! get a ki"k o%t of hearing the defenders of o%r trade oli"y talk abo%t all of the
rod%"ts we are e'orting. 0ell, yeah, we are e'orting a lot, b%t we are imorting a he"k of a
lot more. So ! think what yo% have is a ma$or e"onomi" iss%e. 7hat e"onomi" iss%e is that we are
losing millions of good/aying $obs be"a%se of o%r disastro%s trade oli"y. #%rthermore, the $obs
we have, on those $obs, we are seeing a de"line in wages and in benefits.
! think the bottom line of this is not $%st an e"onomi" iss%e, it is a moral iss%e as well, and that
is when "omanies s%"h as 9eneral Ele"tri" and all the rest//! do not mean to be i"king a lot on
9eneral Ele"tri", b%t ! have a 1%ote ! want to make. 7his was a few years ba"k. ! think it is
imortant be"a%se it alies not $%st to 9eneral Ele"tri". 3%t ! want eole to hear this. 9E is, of
"o%rse, one of o%r ma$or "ororations. 7he man%fa"t%rer4s re"ent dis"los%re ointed o%t, the
ta'ayers of this "o%ntry, thro%gh the #ed, rovided +,A billion in bailo%t to 9eneral Ele"tri"
d%ring the re"ent "risis. 7his is what the head, the 2E& of 9eneral Ele"tri", Geffrey !mmelt, said
in :==:, De"ember A8
0hen ! am talking to 9E managers, ! talk 2hina, 2hina, 2hina, 2hina, 2hina. (o% need to be
there. (o% need to "hange the way eole talk abo%t it and how they get there. ! am a n%t on
2hina. &%tso%r"ing from 2hina is going to grow to ? billion. 0e are b%ilding a te"h "enter in
2hina. Every dis"%ssion today has to "enter on 2hina. 7he "ost basis is e'tremely attra"tive. (o%
"an take an ,./"%bi"/foot refrigerator, make it in 2hina, land it in the Bnited States, and land it
for less than we "an make an ,./"%bi"/foot refrigerator today o%rselves.
9ee. A "o%le of years ago when 9E had some diffi"%lt e"onomi" times, and they needed +,A
billion to bail them o%t, ! did not hear Mr. !mmelt going to 2hina, 2hina, 2hina, 2hina, 2hina. !
did not hear that. ! heard Mr. !mmelt going to the ta'ayers of the Bnited States for his welfare
"he"k.
So ! say to Mr. !mmelt, and ! say to all of those 2E&s who have been so 1%i"k to r%n to 2hina,
that maybe it is time to start reinvesting in the Bnited States of Ameri"a. 3%t it is not $%st Mr.
!mmelt. ! do not mean to $%st i"k on him. !t is all of them. 7hey all see the f%t%re in 2hina, in
Vietnam, in "o%ntries where eole work for ennies an ho%r.
Mr. !mmelt "ame to his de"ision in the footstes of the former 2E& of 9E, Ga"k 0elsh. 0hat
Ga"k 0elsh was famo%sly 1%oted as saying8
!deally//
7his is the g%y who was head of 9eneral Ele"tri" before !mmelt. 6e said8
!deally, we wo%ld have every lant we own on a barge.
Do yo% remember that 1%oteC 6e said8
!deally, we wo%ld have every lant we own on a barge.
0hat did he mean by thatC 0hat he meant by that, if yo% are on a barge, yo% "an move yo%r
lant to any art of the world where the labor is "heaest. So if it gets too e'ensive in 2hina,
and yo% have to ay eole >? "ents an ho%r, yo% go to Vietnam. !f it gets too e'ensive in
Vietnam, maybe yo% "an go to North Forea and have eole work %nder marshal law. ! do not
know.
3%t what he was saying is, his goal was to make s%re that 9E wo%ld "reate $obs in those
"o%ntries in the world where workers were aid the lowest ossible wage.
#ormer 9E e'e"%tive vi"e resident #rank Doyle said8
0e did a lot of violen"e to the e'e"tations of the Ameri"an workfor"e. 0e downsiDed, we
delayered, and we o%tso%r"ed.
6e was honest eno%gh to admit that. 3%t, again, ! do not mean to $%st i"k on Geff !mmelt or
9eneral Ele"tri". !t is a history of "ororations all over Ameri"a.
*et me $%st mention that the 2E& of 2is"o, Gohn 2hambers//and this is what he says. (o%
know, we tell the yo%ng eole8 7he f%t%re is in information te"hnology. 0e want yo% g%ys to
be smart. *earn how to %se the "om%ters. (o% are not going to work in fa"tories.
7his is what the 2E& of 2is"o, "ertainly one of the large !7 "omanies in the Bnited States,
said8
2hina will be"ome the !7 "enter of the world. And we "an have a healthy dis"%ssion abo%t
whether that4s in :=:= or :=5=. 0hat we are trying to do is o%tline an entire strategy of be"oming
a 2hinese "omany.
7his was in :==5.
#%rthermore//
6e says, &"tober ,?, :==5//this is 2is"o8
we believe in giving something ba"k and tr%ly be"oming a 2hinese "omany.
Meanwhile, when 2is"o needs ta' breaks, they get it from the ta'ayers of the Bnited States of
Ameri"a. 3oy, are they taking %s for d%mmies. 7hey o%tso%r"e their $obs to 2hina and so forth.
!n the last "amaign, one of the folks who ended % getting a lot more %bli"ity than he %s%ally
does is the resident and 2E& of the B.S. 2hamber of 2ommer"e, a gentleman named 7om
Donoh%e.
;Mr. BDA** of New Me'i"o ass%med the "hair.<
Mr. SANDERS. Again, my oint is not to $%st i"k on individ%als. Every 1%ote ! am giving "an
be m%ltilied ?=, ,== times over. 7his is what "ororate Ameri"a believes. 7hey believe it is
totally aroriate to throw Ameri"an workers o%t on the street, move to low/ wage "o%ntries,
2hina and other "o%ntries, ay eole a few "ents an ho%r, and bring their rod%"ts ba"k into the
Bnited States.
Mr. 7om Donoh%e is the resident and 2E& of the B.S. 2hamber of 2ommer"e. 6e got a lot
of %bli"ity d%ring the last ele"tion be"a%se the 2hamber of 2ommer"e be"ame the f%nnel for a
lot of money that went into "amaigns aro%nd the "o%ntry. 7hey raised tens of millions of
dollars, a lot of the money, that was %ndis"losed. All the ri"h folks and billionaires gave money
to the 2hamber of 2ommer"e, and they were able to ele"t "andidates who were symatheti" to
their oint of view.
*et4s find o%t what their oint of view is. 7his is a 1%ote going ba"k to :==58
&ne $ob sent overseas, if it haens to be my $ob, is one too many. 3%t the benefit of
offshoring $obs o%tweighs the "ost.
7hat was 7om Donoh%e, resident and 2E& of the largest b%siness organiDation in Ameri"a.
7hey are in favor of offshoring Ameri"an $obs. 7hey think it is a good idea. 7hey %nderstand that
if "ororations throw Ameri"an workers o%t on the street and go to 2hina and ay eole there
ennies an ho%r, it will make more rofits. 9ive them "redit. 7hey are %front abo%t it. 0e don4t
"are abo%t the Bnited States of Ameri"a. 0e don4t "are abo%t yo%ng eole. 0e don4t "are abo%t
the f%t%re of this "o%ntry. 7he f%t%re of the world is in 2hina.
6ere is a 1%ote that aeared in one of the aers8
B.S. 2hamber of 2ommer"e President and 2E& 7homas Donoh%e %rged Ameri"an "omanies
to send $obs overseas.
7hat was in :==5. 7his is an AP story.
B.S. 2hamber of 2ommer"e President and 2E& 7homas Donoh%e//
7his is the head of the largest b%siness organiDation in Ameri"a. 7hat is where all these
b%sinesses "ome together to develo oli"y, to lobby %s, to rovide "amaign "ontrib%tions//
%rged Ameri"an "omanies to send $obs overseas.
7hat is really atrioti". 7hat is standing % for the Bnited States.
Donoh%e said 0ednesday that e'orting high/aid te"h $obs to low/"ost "o%ntries s%"h as
!ndia, 2hina, and R%ssia saves "omanies money. !t4s no s%rrise that Donoh%e, who triled the
2hamber of 2ommer"e4s lobbying team sin"e ,@@> and aggressively romotes ro/b%siness
oli"ies, endorses offshoring. 7he - million member organiDation, the 2hamber of 2ommer"e,
the world4s largest b%siness "onsorti%m, "hamions ta' "%ts, free trade, workers "omensation
reform, and more liberal trade oli"ies with 2hina.
0hat more do we need to %nderstand why we have lost millions of good/aying man%fa"t%ring
$obs, why wages are going downC 0hat more do we need when the resident of the 2hamber of
2ommer"e tells %s he thinks it is good %bli" oli"y to send $obs to 2hinaC ! don4t think there is
m%"h we have to dis"over. 7hey are telling %s this.
!n a moment what ! will be talking abo%t is how these ideas from the big/moneyed eole
be"ome imlemented in oli"y whi"h has to do a lot with lobbying and "amaign "ontrib%tions.
3efore ! go there, ! wish to give some more e'amles abo%t how b%siness leaders feel abo%t the
workers of this "o%ntry and the yo%ng eole.
7his, again, is a 1%ote. ! aologiDe. !t is a few years old, from :==5, Gan%ary ,@. 7his is from
Alan *a"y, the 2E& of Sears Roeb%"k and 2omany at the time8
7here are fo%r or five times as many smart, driven eole in 2hina than there are in the Bnited
States. And there are another fo%r or five, three or fo%r times as many eole in !ndia that are
smarter or as smart or have more drive. And if te"hnology is now going to basi"ally red%"e
lo"ation as a barrier to "ometition//
!.e., yo% have a 0orld 0ide 0eb and yo% "an do yo%r work in 2hina or !ndia//
then essentially yo% have something like, whatever that was, seven or nine times more smart,
"ommitted eole than are now "ometing in this marketla"e against "ertain a"tivities.
So we are going to see, ! think, a h%ge in"entive to shi some of these more "ommoditylike
knowledge workers4 $obs offshore.
So here we have o%r bl%e/"ollar $obs de"imated, and we told the kids not to worry. (o% didn4t
want to work in the fa"tory anyhow. 0e have good information te"hnology, "om%ter/based
$obs for yo%. 3%t then yo% have the heads of large "ororations saying8 0hy do ! want Ameri"an
yo%ng eole to do thisC ! "an have !ndian yo%ng eole do it who will work for a fra"tion of the
wages. 0e all see this. !t is nothing new. (o% try to get a lane reservation and yo% are talking to
somebody in !ndia. Please, do not hear me as being anti/!ndian or anti/2hinese. 7hat is the
f%rthest thing ! wo%ld want anyone to think. 0e want to work with eole all over the world. 3%t
we don4t have to destroy the middle "lass of this "o%ntry to hel eole aro%nd the world. (o%
don4t have to be a "ororate 2E& to sell o%t yo%r own eole who b%ilt yo%r "omany to r%n
abroad. 7his Senator is not anti/2hinese, far from it, anti/!ndian, anti/Vietnamese. ! g%ess ! lead
g%ilty to being ro/Ameri"an. Maybe that is s%se"t here.
7he former 2E& of 6ewlett/Pa"kard, 2arly #iorina, ran for Senator. 7his is what she said
when she was the 2E& of 6ewlett/Pa"kard in :==58
7here is no $ob that is Ameri"a4s 9od/given right anymore.
! "o%ld go on and on and on, b%t ! think we have the oint. 7he oint is that when things get
ro%gh for "ororate Ameri"a, as they did re"ently for 9eneral Ele"tri", they r%n to the ta'ayers
in order to be bailed o%t. 3%t their overall hilosohy is that their goal in life is to make as m%"h
money as they "an in any way they "an, and, therefore, yo% r%n to those "o%ntries where wages
are low.
0e are seeing it all the time. !t is not $%st bl%e "ollar) it is in"reasingly white "olor. 0e have
radiologists who are reading J/rays in !ndia. Peole behind the "om%ter "an do work in !ndia as
well as here, and these "ororate folks have taken advantage of that and sold o%t the yo%ng
eole of this "o%ntry and the working "lass.
!t is virt%ally imossible to find anything in a 0almart or other stores s%"h as that that is made
in Ameri"a today. 7his is essentially tr%e for "lothing. An in"reasing amo%nt of "lothing "omes
from 3angladesh. 7oday, there are 5,=== garment fa"tories in 3angladesh making "lothing for
0almart, 9a, G2 Penney, *evi Stra%ss, 7ommy 6ilfiger, and many others. 9arment workers in
3angladesh, some -.? million of them//and the n%mber is growing//are among the lowest aid
workers in the world. 7hey have diffi"%lty b%ying eno%gh food and shelter for their own needs.
7he good news is the minim%m wage in 3angladesh was do%bled. !t went from ,,.? "ents an
ho%r to :- "ents an ho%r. So when yo% b%y yo%r shirt made in 3angladesh, yo% have yo%ng
women there "oming in from the "o%ntryside who are now aid, be"a%se of a do%bling of the
minim%m wage, :- "ents an ho%r. !s that something o%r eole sho%ld be asked to "omete
againstC Sho%ld we say to the Ameri"an worker8 0e "an get yo% $obs. 0e are reared to invest
in the Bnited States. 0e are an Ameri"an "omany. (o% heled make %s great. 7hank yo% for
the work yo% have done over the years. 7hank yo% for %r"hasing o%r rod%"ts. 7hank yo% for
making go %s strong. !f yo% are reared to work for +, an ho%r, +: an ho%r, +- an ho%r, we will
"ome ba"k.
3y the way, in the last "amaign, what did we hear r%mblings ofC Abolishing the minim%m
wage. 7he minim%m wage is now +>.:? an ho%r. 7here are eole o%t there who say8 *ook, if !
"an hire somebody in 2hina for +: or +- an ho%r and yo% want a $ob in Ameri"a and ! have to
ay yo% +>.:? an ho%r, why wo%ld ! want to do thatC !f we abolish the minim%m wage, ! may
hire yo%.
0hat a wonderf%l rose"t for o%r yo%ng eole to think abo%t, working for +5 or +? an ho%r.
!f we want to %nderstand why the middle "lass is "ollasing, why %nemloyment is high, why
o%r man%fa"t%ring base has been de"imated, why it is hard to %r"hase a rod%"t made in the
Bnited States, it has a lot to do with o%r trade oli"ies, whi"h were %shed by eole s%"h as Mr.
Donoh%e of the 2hamber of 2ommer"e and many others.
3%t it is not $%st a disastro%s trade oli"y that has bro%ght %s to where we are today. 7he
immediate "a%se of this "risis is//and this gets me si"k thinking abo%t it//what the "rooks on
0all Street have done to the Ameri"an eole. 7hese eole fo%ght for a eriod of years to
dereg%late the banking ind%stry. 7hese eole said to %s8 0ell, if yo% $%st wo%ld do away with
9lass/Steagall, if yo% will $%st allow finan"ial instit%tions, "ommer"ial banks, investor banks,
ins%ran"e "omanies, if yo% allow them to merge, do away with these walls whi"h 9lass/
Steagall, sin"e the 9reat Deression, established, my 9od, it will be $%st terrifi". !t will be good
for the e"onomy, good for the Ameri"an eole, good for o%r international "ometitiveness.
! remember those debates be"a%se ! was at that oint in the 6o%se of Reresentatives. ! was a
member of the #inan"ial !nstit%tions 2ommittee at that oint. ! was on the "ommittee that dealt
with that. ! remember all the times Alan 9reensan "ame before the "ommittee and Robert
R%bin. 0e had Re%bli"ans, Demo"rats "oming before the "ommittee and saying8 7his is what
yo% have to do. (o% have to dereg%late. (o% have to let these g%ys merge. 3igger is better.
Against my votes. Somewhere on the !nternet there is a dis"%ssion ! had with Alan 9reensan
when he "ame before o%r "ommittee. ! made it very "lear to the eole of Vermont, to him and
everybody else, that ! did not think dereg%lation was a good idea, that ! tho%ght it wo%ld lead to
disaster. Somela"e in this world there is a 1%ote of mine whi"h retty m%"h redi"ts what was
going to haen. 3%t needless to say, ! was one vote. 7he ma$ority of the Members in the 6o%se
and Senate voted to dereg%late. 7he rest is, %nfort%nately, history.
0hat we saw is eole on 0all Street oerating from a b%siness model based on fra%d, based
on dishonesty, %nderstanding that the likelihood of them ever getting "a%ght was small, that if
things got very bad, they wo%ld be bailed o%t by the ta'ayers, %nderstanding that they are too
owerf%l to ever be %t in $ail, to be indi"ted, %nderstanding that in this "o%ntry when yo% are a
2E& on 0all Street, yo% have so m%"h wealth and so m%"h ower and so many lawyers and so
many friends in 2ongress, yo% "o%ld do retty m%"h anything yo% want and not m%"h is going to
haen to yo%//and they did it. 7heir greed and re"klessness and their illegal behavior destroyed
this e"onomy.
0hat they did to the Ameri"an eole is so horrible. 6ere we had a middle "lass whi"h was
already being battered as a res%lt of trade agreements, loss of man%fa"t%ring $obs, health "are
"osts going %, "o%ldn4t afford to send their "hildren to "ollege//that had gone on for years//and
then these g%ys started %shing worthless and "omli"ated finan"ial instr%ments and the whole
thing e'lodes.
And they "ome "rying to the ta'ayers of Ameri"a to bail them o%t.
! will never forget//never forget//6ank Pa%lson "oming before the Demo"rati" "a%"%s//! am an
!ndeendent and have long been serving as an !ndeendent in 2ongress//saying that within a few
days he needed +>== billion or the entire world4s finan"ial system wo%ld "ollase. My s%ggestion
to him at that meeting was8 !f yo% need the money, why don4t yo% go to yo%r friends and get the
moneyC 0hy don4t yo% go to all yo%r banker friends and millionaire friends and billionaires
friends and get some of that money, and don4t go to the middle "lass of this "o%ntry that has
already been harmed.
!n fa"t, we bro%ght an amendment to the floor of the Senate, whi"h was one of the first
amendments ! bro%ght as a Senator, whi"h said that the to : er"ent sho%ld ay for the bailo%t,
not the Ameri"an eole. !t got defeated on a voi"e vote.
So what haens on 0all Street is we have seen a tremendo%s "on"entration of ownershi
there, another iss%e we do not talk eno%gh abo%t. ! know Senator Brown and Senator Fa%fman
and ! worked on a roosal to try to break % these large finan"ial instit%tions. ! think we got -=/
some/odd votes on that. 0e "o%ld not do it.
So what the Ameri"an eole sho%ld know now is, while we bailed o%t 0all Street, be"a%se
they were too big to fail, three o%t of the fo%r largest finan"ial instit%tions//all of whom were
bailed o%t very signifi"antly//are now larger today than they were before the bailo%t.
!n"redibly, sin"e the start of the finan"ial "risis, 0ells #argo has grown 5- er"ent bigger,
GPMorgan 2hase has grown ?, er"ent bigger, and 3ank of Ameri"a is now ,-. er"ent larger
than before the finan"ial "risis began.
2an yo% imagine thatC 0e bailed these g%ys o%t be"a%se they were too big to fail, and now
three o%t of the fo%r largest ones are m%"h larger than they were. 6ow did that haenC 0ell, in
:==., 3ank of Ameri"a//the largest "ommer"ial bank in this "o%ntry//whi"h re"eived a +5?
billion ta'ayer bailo%t, %r"hased 2o%ntrywide, the largest mortgage lender in this "o%ntry, and
Merrill *yn"h, the largest sto"k brokerage firm in the "o%ntry. 7hat is how 3ank of Ameri"a
e'anded. 7hey were too big to fail. 7oday they are m%"h bigger.
!n :==., GPMorgan 2hase, whi"h re"eived a +:? billion bailo%t from the 3%sh 7reas%ry
Deartment and a +:@ billion bridge loan from the #ederal Reserve, a"1%ired 3ear Stearns and
0ashington M%t%al, the largest savings and loan in the "o%ntry. 7hat is how GPMorgan 2hase, a
h%ge bank, be"ame even bigger.
!n :==., the 7reas%ry Deartment rovided an +,. billion ta' break to 0ells #argo to %r"hase
0a"hovia, allowing that bank to "ontrol ,, er"ent of all bank deosits in this "o%ntry.
6ear this be"a%se this is 1%ite %nbelievable8 0hen we try to %nderstand what is going on in the
e"onomy today//the ri"h getting ri"her, the oor getting oorer, the middle "lass "ollasing//
today, after we bailed o%t all these large banks, three o%t of fo%r of them are now m%"h larger
than they were before. 7oday, 3ank of Ameri"a, GPMorgan 2hase, 2itigro%, and 0ells #argo//
the fo%r largest finan"ial instit%tions in this "o%ntry//hold abo%t +>.5 trillion in assets, and that is
e1%al to over half the Nation4s estimated total o%t%t last year. #o%r finan"ial instit%tions have
assets worth more than ?: er"ent of o%r total o%t%t last year.
!nstead of breaking % these folks, these large instit%tions, we let them get bigger. !n fa"t,
a""ording to Simon Gohnson, the former "hief e"onomist of the !nternational Monetary #%nd8
As a res%lt of the "risis and vario%s government res"%e efforts, the largest A banks in o%r
e"onomy now have total assets in e'"ess Lhe "laimsM of A- er"ent of 9DP. ..... 7his is a
signifi"ant in"rease from even :==A, when the same banks4 assets were aro%nd ?? er"ent of
9DP. .....
Do yo% %nderstand what this is abo%tC #o%r finan"ial instit%tions owning over half the assets of
Ameri"a. (o% talk abo%t e"onomi" ower, yo% talk abo%t oliti"al ower, that is what we are
talking abo%t.
Simon Gohnson "ontin%es8 7his is EEa "omlete transformation "omared with the sit%ation in
the B.S. $%st ,? years ago//when the A largest banks had "ombined assets of only aro%nd ,>
er"ent of 9DP.44
So ,? years ago, ,> er"ent, si' banks) today, fo%r banks, and, he "laims, A- er"ent of 9DP.
!n other words, over the last ,? years, the largest banks in this "o%ntry have more than triled in
siDe.
Not only are too/big/to/fail finan"ial instit%tions bad for ta'ayers, the enormo%s "on"entration
of ownershi in the finan"ial se"tor has led to higher bank fees, %s%rio%s interest rates on "redit
"ards, and fewer "hoi"es for "ons%mers. 0hat do yo% think haens when yo% have a few
instit%tions, a handf%l of instit%tions, "ontrolling mortgage lending or where eole get their
"redit "ardsC
7oday, these h%ge finan"ial instit%tions have be"ome so big that a""ording to the 0ashington
Post8 7he fo%r largest banks in Ameri"a now iss%e one o%t of every two mortgages, two o%t of
three "redit "ards, and hold +5 o%t of every +,= in bank deosits in the entire "o%ntry.
!f any of these finan"ial instit%tions were to get into ma$or tro%ble again, ta'ayers wo%ld be
on the hook for another s%bstantial bailo%t. 0e "annot allow that to haen. So the whole reason
for the bailo%t was that if any of these finan"ial instit%tions "ollased, it wo%ld take down a
signifi"ant art of the e"onomy and millions of $obs. 0e had to ro them %. 0e had to bail
them o%t. !t t%rns o%t that sin"e we bailed them o%t, these handf%l of finan"ial instit%tions are
now even larger than they were before and we now know they are en$oying very strong rofits
and they are aying their 2E&s even more in "omensation than they did before the breakdown.
!n my view, if we are serio%s abo%t %nderstanding why the middle "lass is "ollasing, if we are
serio%s abo%t getting this e"onomy moving again long term, we have to have the "o%rage to do
e'a"tly what 7eddy Roosevelt did ba"k in the tr%st/b%sting days and break % these banks. 7he
oint Roosevelt was making was, it is bad for the e"onomy when a handf%l of entities "ontrol
ind%stry after ind%stry. 7hey have a stranglehold on the e"onomy. (o% have to break them %.
(et ! have heard very little dis"%ssion//! know there was an amendment from Sherrod Brown
and 7ed Fa%fman, and ! introd%"ed legislation on this iss%e to start breaking them %. 3%t,
frankly, their lobbyists and their money are s%"h that it be"omes very diffi"%lt to do that. 3%t that
is e'a"tly what we sho%ld be doing.
7he legislation ! introd%"ed last year, S. :>5A, the 7oo 3ig to #ail, 7oo 3ig to E'ist A"t, wo%ld
break % these large finan"ial instit%tions. 7hat legislation wo%ld re1%ire the Se"retary of
7reas%ry to identify every single finan"ial instit%tion and ins%ran"e "omany in this "o%ntry that
is too big to fail within @= days) and after , year, the Se"retary of the 7reas%ry wo%ld be re1%ired
to break % these instit%tions so their fail%re wo%ld not lead to the "ollase of the B.S. or global
e"onomies.
! think that is retty obvio%s. 0e assed a finan"ial reform bill, whi"h ! s%orted and got a
ma$or rovision in there asking for dis"los%re at the #ed, an investigation of "onfli"ts of interest
at the #ed, and an a%dit of the #ed d%ring the finan"ial "risis. 3%t overall, !, by no means, think
that legislation went anywhere near far eno%gh. ! think that is a modest ie"e of legislation and
an iss%e we have to revisit.
! worry very m%"h abo%t the f%t%re be"a%se ! have a feeling in my stoma"h that day is going to
"ome aro%nd again, when these h%ge finan"ial instit%tions are tottering, when they are going to
go r%nning to 0ashington, and they are going to say8 6ey, yo% have to bail %s o%t. !n my view, if
an instit%tion is too big to fail, it is too big to e'ist. *et %s break them % so we do not have to go
thro%gh another bailo%t of 0all Street.
#%rthermore, ! believe when yo% have that kind of "on"entration of ownershi//when yo% have
fo%r large finan"ial instit%tions holding half the mortgages in this "o%ntry, "ontrolling two/thirds
of the "redit "ards, and
amassing 5= er"ent of all deosits//this is not good for a "ometitive e"onomy.
0e are s%osed to be living in free market "aitalism, real "ometition. 7his is not free
market "ometition. 7his is a h%ge "on"entration of ownershi, where a few eole have
enormo%s ower over the e"onomy, and with their wealth, the oliti"al life of this "o%ntry.
No single finan"ial instit%tion sho%ld be so large that its fail%re wo%ld "a%se "atastrohi" risk
to millions of Ameri"an $obs or to o%r Nation4s e"onomi" well/being. No single finan"ial
instit%tion sho%ld have holdings so e'tensive that its fail%re "o%ld send the world4s e"onomy into
"risis. 0e were there : years ago, and in many ways, desite the assage of the finan"ial reform
bill, we are even more there now. 7he big, h%ge finan"ial instit%tions we bailed o%t are bigger,
more h%ge today.
!nterestingly eno%gh, on that iss%e, it is not $%st rogressives s%"h as myself who hold that
view. 7here are some retty "onservative folks who are honest "onservatives. 7he "on"entration
of ownershi in a handf%l of entities) is that a "onservative roositionC Not in terms of my
%nderstanding of what "onservatives are abo%t. ! do not think so.
(o% have at least three #ederal Reserve 3ank residents who s%ort breaking % too/big/to/
fail banks. Games 3%llard, resident and "hief e'e"%tive of the #ederal Reserve 3ank of Saint
*o%is) Fansas 2ity #ed resident 7homas M. 6oenig) and Dallas #ed resident Ri"hard 0.
#isher//these g%ys do not have my oliti"al views. ! am a ro%d rogressive. My g%ess is they
are "onservatives. 3%t anybody with an o%n"e of brains in their head %nderstands that fo%r large
finan"ial instit%tions that have assets that are more than half the 9DP of the Bnited States of
Ameri"a la"es %s, A, in a very dangero%s osition in terms of too big to fail, and, 3, it is $%st
bad for a "ometitive e"onomy.
!s there any wonder why eole are aying :? er"ent or -= er"ent interest rates on their
"redit "ardsC 7hat is be"a%se these g%ys iss%e two/thirds of the "redit "ards in Ameri"a. !s there
any reason why they were iss%ing fra%d%lent mortgage a"kages to eoleC 3e"a%se there is not
the kind of "ometition that sho%ld be there.
3%t this is not $%st Bernie Sanders4 oint of view. 6ere is what Fansas 2ity #ed President
6oenig said. ! am sorry ! do not have a date on that, b%t ! think it was fairly re"ently//last year.
7his is Fansas 2ity #ed President 6oenig8
! think they sho%ld be broken %. ! think there4s no reason why as we4ve done in other instan"es
of Lsi"M finding the right me"hanism to break them into their "omonents. .....
And in doing so, ! think yo%4ll make the finan"ial system itself more stable. ! think yo% will
make it more "ometitive, and ! think yo% will have long/r%n benefits over o%r "%rrent system,
Lwhi"hM mi'es it and therefore leads to bailo%ts when "rises o""%r.
7his is 7homas 6oenig, the head of the Fansas 2ity #ed. A very simle statement. 6e is
absol%tely right. 3%t//and ! am going to get to the reason why in a little while//we have not been
able to do this. 0e have not been able to do this be"a%se 0all Street sends their lobbyists down
here in droves and 0all Street rovides Dillions of dollars in "amaign "ontrib%tions and 0all
Street fights like the di"kens to make s%re that any strong rovisions that some of %s might bring
% are defeated. 6ere is what the President of the Dallas #ed, Mr. #isher, said8
L3Mased on my e'erien"e at the #ed ..... the marginal "osts of too/big/to/fail finan"ial
instit%tions easily dwarf their %rorted so"ial and ma"roe"onomi" benefits.
7he risk osed by "oddling too big to fail banks is simly too great.
0inston 2h%r"hill said that. 6e is 1%oting Mr. 2h%r"hill8
!n finan"e, everything that is agreeable is %nso%nd and everything that is so%nd is disagreeable.
7hat is from 2h%r"hill.
Mr. #isher "ontin%es8
! think the disagreeable b%t so%nd thing to do regarding instit%tions that are too big to fail is to
dismantle them over time into instit%tions that "an be r%dently managed and reg%lated a"ross
borders. 7his sho%ld be done before the ne't finan"ial "risis be"a%se we now know it s%rely
"annot be done in the middle of a "risis.
7hat is Dallas #ed resident Mr. #isher.
7hey are already in the ro"ess of breaking % big banks in England. A""ording to the
0ashington Post8
7he 3ritish government anno%n"ed 7%esday//
Not this 7%esday, way ba"k last year//
that it will break % arts of ma$or finan"ial instit%tions bailed o%t by ta'ayers. 7he 3ritish
government, s%rred on by E%roean reg%lators, is for"ing the Royal 3ank of S"otland, *loyds
3anking 9ro%, and Northern Ro"k to sell off arts of their oerations. E%roeans are "alling for
more and smaller banks to in"rease "ometition and to eliminate banks so large that they m%st be
res"%ed by ta'ayers, no matter how they "ond%"ted their b%siness, in order to avoid damaging
the global finan"ial system.
A very interesting develoment o""%rred on &"tober ,? of last year. &n &"tober ,?//as !
mentioned earlier, Alan 9reensan, who was the "hairman of the #ed before Mr. 3ernanke, and !
have had o%r r%n/ins. Mr. 9reensan, along with Mr. R%bin and others, were the "hief
roonents//*arry S%mmers in there//were the "hief roonents of dereg%lation of finan"ial
instit%tions, and Mr. 9reensan and ! had more than a few arg%ments. 3%t on &"tober ,? of last
year, Alan 9reensan, who admitted his views on dereg%lation were wrong//and ! give the man
"o%rage for at least admitting he was wrong. 6e did a he"k/of/a/lot of damage, b%t at least he
had the "o%rage to admit he was wrong. 6e was 1%oted in 3loomberg News as saying8
!f they are too big to fail, they are too big. !n ,@,,, we broke % Standard &il. So what
haenedC 7he individ%al arts be"ame more val%able than the whole.
Maybe that4s what we need to do.
Alan 9reensan, the ar"hite"t of dereg%lation, "iting the fa"t that in ,@,, we broke % Standard
&il. So here we have 9reensan, who heled "a%se this "risis, at least having the "o%rage to
%nderstand that now is the time to begin breaking % these big finan"ial instit%tions. 7hey have
enormo%s ower over o%r e"onomy. 7hey have enormo%s ower over o%r oliti"al life. 7heir
lobbyists are all over this la"e. (o% "an4t walk down the hall witho%t b%ming into some of
their lobbyists. So we have to start breaking them % and the Ameri"an eole have to be
reared for a ma$or fight to take on these h%ge finan"ial instit%tions.
#ormer #ed 2hairman Pa%l Vol"ker, who has advised the &bama administration, s%orts
breaking % big banks so they no longer ose systemi" risk to the entire e"onomy.
A""ording to a re"ent arti"le in the New (ork 7imes, Vol"ker said8
Peole say !4m old/fashioned and banks "an no longer be searated from nonbank a"tivity.
7hat arg%ment bro%ght %s to where we are today.
Pa%l Vol"ker. ! "o%ldn4t agree more. 7hat is what ! am talking abo%t. 0e have to start breaking
% fo%r finan"ial instit%tions whi"h led %s into the e"onomi" disaster we are in right now that
remain m%"h too big to fail, that we are going to have to bail o%t again and again and again, and
that today have a stranglehold on o%r e"onomy.
7he New (ork 7imes says %nder Vol"ker4s lan8
GPMorgan2hase wo%ld have to give % their trading oerations a"1%ired from 3ear Stearns.
3ank of Ameri"a and Merrill *yn"h wo%ld go ba"k to being searate "omanies. 9oldman Sa"hs
"o%ld no longer be a bank holding "omany.
7hat is e'a"tly what needs to be haening.
! "ome from a small State. 0e have "omm%nity banks. 6ere is the irony8 7he banks in
Vermont, in the midst of all of this finan"ial disaster, did $%st fine. 7hey are small, lo"ally owned
banks. 7hey know the eole they lend money to. 7he 2E&s are not making h%ndreds of
millions of dollars in rofit. 7hey know their "omm%nity. 7hey know what loans made sense.
Now, ! may be old/fashioned like Mr. Vol"ker, b%t ! think that is what banking is abo%t8 to lend
o%t money to eole in the rod%"tive e"onomy, to the b%siness "omm%nity, who "an %se the
money to e'and and "reate $obs) to homeowners who need that money to b%y a home, not to be
living in yo%r own world engaged in a h%ge gambling "asino rod%"ing and selling worthless
rod%"ts nobody %nderstands.
7he f%n"tion of a bank is to be a middleman between eole who need money and are
rod%"ing real rod%"ts and heling them get that money and eole who are investing in the
banks. !t is not s%osed to be an island to itself. 3%t in re"ent years what we have seen,
in"redibly, is that 5= er"ent of all rofit in Ameri"a went to the finan"ial instit%tions with a
small n%mber of eole working there, relatively small. 7hey got 5= er"ent of the rofits
be"a%se they live in a world that is a h%ge gambling "asino.
0e need finan"ial instit%tions to go ba"k to the way banking %sed to be, where the $ob of banks
was to rovide affordable loans to the rod%"tive e"onomy so we "an rod%"e real rod%"ts, real
goods, and we "an "reate real $obs when we do that.
Robert Rei"h, President 2linton4s former *abor Se"retary, said8
No imortant %bli" interest is served by allowing giant banks to grow too big to fail. 0all
Street banks sho%ld be slit %, and soon.
0e have a lot of eole, some "onservatives, some rogressives, who are saying the same
thing. !f we are going to reb%ild the middle "lass, the way to do that is, among other things, to
"hange o%r disastro%s trade oli"ies, to make it "lear to "ororate Ameri"a that they "annot
"ontin%e to sell o%t the workers of this "o%ntry by moving to 2hina and other low/wage
"o%ntries. 0e also have to have a m%"h more "ometitive e"onomy, one in whi"h all large
finan"ial instit%tions do not own assets of more than half of the 9DP of this "o%ntry.
&n that oint, ! find it very interesting that it is not $%st rogressives s%"h as myself or Robert
Rei"h, b%t we have some "onservative bankers//eole who are heading #ed banks aro%nd this
"o%ntry//who are saying retty m%"h the same thing.
Also, when we talk abo%t banks, ! wish to get ba"k to a oint ! raised earlier. 7his is an iss%e !
have been working on for years and years, and this is the iss%e of %s%ry. ! mentioned earlier, if
yo% read the religio%s tenents of the ma$or religions thro%gho%t history, whether it is 2hristianity,
G%daism, !slam, and others, what yo% find is almost %niversal ob$e"tion and disg%st and a feeling
of immorality in terms of %s%ry. 0hen we talked abo%t %s%ry in the Bnited States, what we
%s%ally talked abo%t were th%gs, gangsters working on street "orners who lent o%t money at
o%trageo%sly high interest rates to workers, and when that money was not reaid ba"k at the
interest rates asked for, the th%gs wo%ld beat % the workers.
!n fa"t, ! am thinking now abo%t the first movie of Ro"ky. ! don4t know if the Presiding &ffi"er
saw the first movie of Ro"ky with Sylvester Stallone, b%t before he be"ame a s%""essf%l fighter
and the heavyweight "hamion of the world, that is what he was8 a big to%gh g%y who beat %
eole who did not ay ba"k the gangsters the high interest rates they were asking for.
0ell, the world has "hanged. Now the eole who are "ommitting %s%ry are not the gangsters
on street "orners all over Ameri"a. 7heir la"e has been taken by the 2E&s of 0all Street
finan"ial instit%tions who are lending o%t money to deserate Ameri"ans at :? or -= er"ent
interest rates. 7hat, my friends, is "alled %s%ry, and a""ording to every religion on Earth, that is
immoral. 0hat yo% are doing is going % to eole who are deserate, eole who are h%rting,
and yo% are saying8 (o% deserately need money, we are going to give yo% money, b%t there is a
string atta"hed. (o% are going to be "harged an o%trageo%s amo%nt of interest on that money.
So here is the irony8 7he eole who are h%rting the most ay the highest interest rates. 7he
eole who need the money the least are aying the lowest interest rates.
So the #ed lent o%t billions and billions of dollars to the largest finan"ial instit%tions and
offered it at less than , er"ent. 7hat is Ameri"an ta'ayer money//large "ororations, less than
, er"ent.
3%t if yo% are a worker today and yo% are having hard times//maybe yo% are %nemloyed//yo%
are going to ay :? or -= er"ent interest rates on yo%r "redit "ard, and sometimes more. (o%
have this Payday *ending where eole are aying o%trageo%s s%ms of money. ! think that is
immoral. ! think we have to sto it, and it dist%rbs me very m%"h that ese"ially at a time when
we bailed o%t these large finan"ial instit%tions they are still able to "harge o%r eole :? or -=
er"ent. Peole who have bailed them o%t get hit the se"ond time aro%nd by having to ay :? to
-= er"ent interest rates.
Right now, it is not even :? or -= er"ent. As a matter of fa"t, the tenth largest "redit "ard
iss%er in this "o%ntry, an entity "alled Premier 3ank, is now offering a "redit "ard with a >@.@/
er"ent interest rate and a +-== "redit limit. 0hat do we make of thatC 7he tenth largest "redit
"ard iss%er in this "o%ntry is "harging >@ er"ent interest rates, and we allow that to go on. 7hese
are "rooks. 7hese are no different than the gangsters who beat % eole on street "orners when
they didn4t get ayment ba"k, e'"et now the gangsters are wearing three/ie"e s%its and sitting
in some fan"y s%ite on 0all Street.
7oday, over one/1%arter of all "redit "ard holders in this "o%ntry are now aying interest rates
above := er"ent and, as ! indi"ated, as high as >@ er"ent. *et4s be "lear. 0hen "redit "ard
"omanies "harge over := er"ent interest on "redit "ards, they are not engaged in the b%siness
of making "redit available. 0hat they are involved in is e'tortion and loan sharking//nothing
essentially different than gangsters, e'"et they dress a lot better. 7hat is all it is. !t is thievery
and we tolerate it, and we bail them o%t.
!t is interesting in terms of these high interest rates be"a%se for many years we have had States,
in"l%ding the State of Vermont, saying8 (o% are not going to "harge o%trageo%sly high interest
rates. #or e'amle, establishing a %s%ry law is not a radi"al "on"et, whi"h is what we have to
move toward. 0e have to %t a "a on interest rates. !n fa"t, between ,@>. and today, over :=
States in Ameri"a had laws "aing "redit "ard interest rates.
!n Alabama, the legal ma'im%m amo%nt of interest is . er"ent) in Alaska, it is ,=.? er"ent) in
AriDona, it is ,= er"ent) in !daho, ,: er"ent) Fansas, ,? er"ent) the State of Vermont, my own
State, the legal ma'im%m interest rate is ,: er"ent. 3%t what haened is all of those State
interest rate "as disaeared %nder the ,@>. B.S. S%reme 2o%rt de"ision known as the
Mar1%ette "ase, whi"h allowed banks to "harge whatever interest rates they wanted if they
moved to a State witho%t an interest rate law s%"h as So%th Dakota or Delaware.
So all of these "omanies moved to So%th Dakota. 7hey moved to Delaware. No interest rates.
And they "harged the eole in Vermont or 6awaii or anyla"e else -? er"ent interest rates.
So getting ba"k to the original agreement//whi"h ! strongly disagree with//that the President
and the Re%bli"an leadershi agreed to, ! think that agreement signifi"antly hels the %er
in"ome eole by lowering the ta' rates for millionaires and billionaires, by lowering the interest
rate on the estate ta', and by roviding some b%siness loans whi"h are not the kinds of
investments that "an best "reate $obs.
;7he PRES!DEN7 ro temore ass%med the "hair.<
&ne of the things we have to do to rote"t the middle "lass today is have a "a on interest rates
be"a%se otherwise eole are getting a ay"he"k and then going into debt and aying :?, -=
er"ent on their interest rates, with the money going to a handf%l of banks on 0all Street.
! have introd%"ed legislation to %t a "a on interest rates, and it is not a radi"al idea. Right
now, "redit %nions in this "o%ntry, by law, are not allowed to "harge more than ,? er"ent,
e'"et %nder e'traordinary "ir"%mstan"es. 3y and large, that has worked for abo%t -= years. So
if yo% get a "redit "ard thro%gh a "redit %nion, yo% are going to be aying in almost every "ase no
more than ,? er"ent. 7hat was develoed by #ederal law.
Do yo% know what. ! have talked to the "redit %nion eole in Vermont and all over the
"o%ntry. 2redit %nions are doing $%st fine. 7hey are not the ones that "ame begging the Ameri"an
ta'ayer for a h%ge bailo%t. So for -= years they have s%rvived $%st fine on a ,?/er"ent "a. 3%t
o%r friends on 0all Street who "a%sed this re"ession, o%r friends on 0all Street who needed a
welfare "he"k from the Ameri"an eole in order to s%rvive, who today are earning more money
than they did before the bailo%t//we don4t have any "a on the interest rates they "an "harge.
!n my view, if the "redit %nions have s%rvived and s%rvived well with a ,?/er"ent ma'im%m
interest rate "a//the most they "an "harge//and it worked for "redit %nions, it "an work for the
rivate banks as well. 7hat is what we have to do.
A""ording to a re"ent arti"le//this is a year ago//in the *os Angeles 7imes8
2hris 2ollver, legislative and reg%latory analyst for the 2alifornia 2redit Bnion *eag%e, said
that a rate "a hasn4t h%rt b%siness for nearly 5== "redit %nions reresented by his organiDation.
EE!t hasn4t been an iss%e,44 he said. EE2redit %nions are still able to thrive.44
6ere is my oint. 7he middle "lass is h%rting. Bnemloyment is o%trageo%sly high, overty is
in"reasing, there are ?= million eole with no health ins%ran"e, there is a ga between the ri"h
and everybody else, man%fa"t%ring is "ollasing, and $obs are going all over the world//2hina,
Me'i"o, !ndia. 0e have to start rote"ting the middle "lass of this "o%ntry.
7here are a n%mber of things we have to do. ! think one simle thing we have to do is tell the
"rooks on 0all Street//and ! %se that word advisedly//history will rove that they knew what
they were doing. 7hey were dishonest. 7he b%siness model is fra%d%lent. 7here are honest
eole who o""asionally make a mistake, b%t there are other b%sinesses that are based on fra%d
and ass%me they are never going to get "a%ght. 0hen they do get "a%ght, the enalty they have
to ay is so little that it is worth it be"a%se they end % getting "a%ght , o%t of ,= times, b%t they
make a whole lot of money, and then they ay a fine and somebody goes to $ail//very rarely,
tho%gh//for a year. 7hat is what yo% are seeing on 0all Street.
! think if it has worked very well for the "redit %nions, it "an work for the rivate banks as
well.
Mr. President, in the finan"ial reform bill, did we address this iss%eC (es, we did, and no, we
didn4t. 0e said the "redit "ard "omanies have to be "learer and more honest abo%t their interest
rates and how m%"h borrowing money will a"t%ally "ost be"a%se before they wo%ld say8 (o%
will get a Dero interest rate or a :/er"ent interest rate, b%t most eole didn4t read the small rint
on age 5 that said they "o%ld raise interest rates at any time.
0e have made some rogress on at least them being honest with the Ameri"an eole abo%t
what their "redit "ard "osts will be, b%t that is not eno%gh. 0hat we have to do is %t a "a on
interest rates. !t has worked for the "redit %nions. ! believe it "an and sho%ld work for the big
banks as well.
Mr. President, what ! want to do now is $%st give yo% some e'amles abo%t//yo% know,
sometimes here//and ! am g%ilty of it as well//we talk in big n%mbers//a billion here and a
trillion there//and it adds %. 3%t ! think it is also imortant to look at the flesh and blood that is
o%t there, the real s%ffering eole are e'erien"ing.
A while ba"k, what ! did was ! sent an e/mail o%t to eole in Vermont. !t was a very simle e/
mail. !t said8 7ell me in yo%r own words what is going on in yo%r family. 0hat is going on in
yo%r lives, in the midst of this terrible re"essionC
Again, it is imortant. (es, we know %nemloyment is @.. er"ent and the real %nemloyment
is ,A er"ent, ?= million eole don4t have any health ins%ran"e, median family in"ome has gone
down, overty has gone %, and :? er"ent of o%r kids are on food stams. !t is imortant to
know that st%ff. 3%t behind all of those statisti"s is flesh and blood and good eole who are
doing everything they "an to s%rvive with a shred of dignity in their lives.
! did this last year. ! sent that e/mail o%t to my "onstit%ents in Vermont, and ! said8 0rite ba"k
to me. 7ell me in yo%r own words what is going on in yo%r lives. ! "annot remember how many
we re"eived, b%t there were h%ndreds and h%ndreds of resonses. !t 1%ite amaDed me. #rankly, it
was hard to read these letters from de"ent, good eole abo%t what was haening in their lives.
0hat ! said to them was this8 !f it is &F with yo%, we will %blish what yo% have written. 0e
won4t %se yo%r names, of "o%rse. ! don4t want to embarrass anybody. 0e will read some of these
stories on the floor of the Senate.
7hat is what ! did. ! didn4t read them all, b%t ! read some of them be"a%se it is imortant for %s
sitting here inside the beltway not to forget what is going on in the real world, whether it is
6awaii, Vermont, 2alifornia, or anyla"e.
6ere are letters from two mothers in Vermont. #irst is from a woman in a r%ral area. 7he
se"ond is from a single mother in a small "ity. !n Vermont, frankly, we don4t have too many big
"ities. !n my very bea%tif%l State, where ! e'e"t the weather is very "old today, o%r largest "ity
is all of 5=,=== eole. 7hat is 3%rlington, V7, and ! was honored to have been the mayor of that
"ity for . years. 2ertainly, the vast ma$ority of o%r eole live in towns of less than ,,===, and
there are towns of ?==. #or a while, ! lived in a town "alled Stanton, % in the Northeast
Fingdom of Vermont, whi"h has robably ,?= eole in it, and that is not %n"ommon in
Vermont. 7here are a lot of small towns.
6ere are the two letters.
A woman in the r%ral area says8
My h%sband and ! have lived in Vermont o%r whole lives. 0e have two small "hildren, a baby
and a toddler, and have felt fort%nate to own o%r own ho%se and land. 3%t d%e to the in"reasing
f%el ri"es, we have at times had to "hoose between baby food and diaers and heating f%el.
!n Vermont, heating f%el gets % there when the weather gets := below Dero. !t is an e'ensive
roosition.
2ontin%ing8
0e have r%n o%t of heating f%el three times so far, and the baby has ended % in the hosital
with ne%monia two of the times. 0e tried to kee the kids warm with an ele"tri" sa"e heater
on those nights, b%t that $%st doesn4t do the tri"k. My h%sband does what he "an $%st to s"rae
eno%gh money for "ar f%el ea"h week, and we have gone from three vehi"les to one $%st to try to
get by witho%t going f%rther into debt. 0e were going to sell the ho%se and rent, b%t the rent
aro%nd here is higher than what we ay for o%r mortgage and roerty ta'es "ombined. Please
hel.
7hat is what she asked of me and her government//EEPlease hel.44 She didn4t ask me to lower
ta'es for billionaires. She is seaking for tens of millions of eole in this "o%ntry who are in
deserate need of hel.
6ere is another letter that "ame from a woman who lives in a larger town8
! am a single mother with a @/year/old boy. 0e lived this ast winter witho%t any heat at all.
7hat is not a good osition to be in in Vermont in the winter.
#ort%nately, someone gave me an old wood stove. ! had to hook it % to an old %n%sed "himney
we had in the kit"hen. ! "o%ldn4t even afford a "himney liner. 7he ri"e of liners went % with the
ri"e of f%el. 7o stay warm at night, my son and ! wo%ld %ll off all the illows from the "o%"h
and ile them on the kit"hen floor. ! wo%ld hang a blanket from the kit"hen doorway, and we
wo%ld slee right there on the floor. 3y #ebr%ary, we ran o%t of wood, and ! b%rned my mother4s
dining room f%rnit%re. ! have no oil for hot water. 0e boil o%r water on the stove and o%r it into
the t%b. ! wo%ld like to order one of yo%r flags and hang it %side down at the 2aitol b%ilding.
0e are "ertainly a "o%ntry in distress.
Mr. President, what ! will witho%t do%bt ass%re yo% is that those stories, in different forms//and
! know it is different in big "ities than in a r%ral State s%"h as Vermont, and ! know it is different
in 6awaii, where the 2hair "omes from, than in 3oston, MA. 3%t ! am absol%tely s%re that
millions of eole in one way or another are telling the same story. 7hese are great Ameri"ans,
eole who want to work and do the best they "an by their kids. 7hey are simly not making it
right now.
7his is the Bnited States of Ameri"a, in :=,=, and eole are going "old. Peole don4t have
eno%gh food. Peole are homeless. My friends here are talking abo%t h%ge ta' breaks for
billionaires. My friends here are talking abo%t lowering rates on the estate ta' for the to three/
tenths of , er"ent of the Ameri"an eole. 0hat are we talking abo%tC 0hat kinds of riorities
are thoseC
6ere is another letter from Vermont. 7his is not a woman in deseration. 7hose folks ! $%st
read from are. 7his woman says8
As a "o%le with one "hild, earning abo%t +??,=== a year Lwhi"h is, in Vermont, fairly de"entM
we have been able to eat o%t a bit, b%y gro"eries and health ins%ran"e, "ontrib%te to o%r
retirement f%nds, and live a relatively "omfortable life finan"ially. 0e have never a""%m%lated a
lot of savings, b%t o%r bills were always aid on time, and we never had any interest on o%r "redit
"ard. &ver the last year, even tho%gh we have tightened o%r belts, not eating o%t m%"h, wat"hing
%r"hases at the gro"ery store, not b%ying e'tras like a new 7V, and reairing the washer instead
of b%ying a new one//doing all those things, we find o%rselves with over +>,=== of "redit "ard
debt and are trying to fig%re o%t how to ay for bra"es for o%r son. ! work ?= ho%rs er week to
hel earn e'tra money to "at"h %. 3%t that also takes a toll on the family life. Not sending
those ,= ho%rs at home with my h%sband and son makes a big differen"e for all of %s. My
h%sband hasn4t had a raise in - years and his emloyer is looking to "%t o%t any e'tra benefits
they "an to lower their e'enses, whi"h will in"rease o%rs.
6ow many millions of Ameri"ans do yo% think are saying e'a"tly the same thingC
*et me read another story that "omes from Vermont.
My @=/year/old father in 2onne"ti"%t has re"ently be"ome ill and asked me to visit him. ! want
to dro everything ! am doing and go visit him. 6owever, ! am finding it hard to save eno%gh
money to add to the e'tra gas ! will need to get there. ! am self/emloyed with my own
"ommer"ial "leaning servi"e and money is tight, not only with gas ri"es b%t with everything. !
make more than ! did a year ago, and ! don4t have eno%gh to ay my roerty ta'es this 1%arter
for the first time in many years. 7hey are d%e tomorrow.
6ere is another letter that ! think deserves to be read. Mr. President, ! think it wo%ld not h%rt
this body if every Member of the Senate//! know we all get letters like this//"ame down here and
sent a "o%le of days talking abo%t what is going on with working families in this "o%ntry.
So%ting statisti"s is good, and dealing with ta' deals of +@== billion is fine, b%t ! think we
sho%ld rea"1%aint o%rselves with the reality of life in Ameri"a today.
7his is what another "onstit%ent of mine writes8
My h%sband and ! are retired and A? years of age. 0e wo%ld have liked to work longer, b%t
be"a%se of in$%ries "a%sed at work and the "losing of o%r fa"tory to go to 2anada, we "hose to
retire early. Now, with oil ri"es the way they are, we "annot afford to heat o%r home %nless my
h%sband "%ts and slits wood, whi"h is a real hardshi as he has had his ba"k f%sed and sho%ld
not be working most of the day to kee % with the wood. Not only that, he has to get % two or
three times ea"h night to kee the fire going.
!n other words, what she is talking abo%t, is that in Vermont a lot of eole heat with wood//
in"reasingly with ellets, an imortant so%r"e of f%el in the State of Vermont. 0hat she is talking
abo%t is her h%sband, who is A?, with a bad ba"k, has to go o%t and "%t wood, and in their "ase,
his being old, he has to get % two or three times a night to stoke the f%rna"e that is keeing the
ho%se warm. Again, ! wo%ld remind eole that in Vermont it o""asionally gets := or -= below
Dero.
She "ontin%es8
0e also have a :==- "ar that we only get to drive to get gro"eries or go to the do"tor or to visit
my mother in the n%rsing home three miles away. !t now "osts %s +.= a month to go nowhere.
0e have 5:,=== miles on a ?/year/old "ar.
7hey "an4t afford to even %se the "ar. ! don4t know what the ri"e of gas is in 6awaii, Mr.
President, b%t in Vermont it is now over +- a gallon. A lot of eole in my State have to travel
long distan"es to get to work. 7heir "ars need reairs. 2ars break down. 2ars re1%ire, in
Vermont, "om%lsory ins%ran"e. 7hey have to send a whole lot of money $%st getting to work. !
think we forget abo%t that here. 0e don4t need ta' breaks for billionaires, we need to ay
attention to these eole.
She "ontin%es and "on"l%des8
! have Medi"are, b%t ! "an4t afford res"rition "overage %nless ! take my money o%t of an
ann%ity, whi"h is s%osed to "over the ho%se ayment when my h%sband4s ension is gone. 0e
only eat two meals a day to "onserve.
7his is not some 7hird 0orld "o%ntry. 7his is the Bnited States of Vermont//the Bnited States
of Ameri"a, my State of Vermont, and Vermont is better off today than a n%mber of States
aro%nd this "o%ntry. (o% have these stories, and m%ltily them by ,= in every area of this
"o%ntry.
6ere is another story8
(esterday, ! aid for o%r latest home heating f%el delivery//
Again, ! am fo"%sing now on the "ost of f%el be"a%se in Vermont, where ! "ome from, it is a
big deal. So she writes8
(esterday, ! aid for o%r latest home f%el heating delivery//+,,,==. ! also aid my +:,===/l%s
"redit "ard balan"e, m%"h of whi"h bo%ght gas and gro"eries for the month.
7he oint here, and then ! will "ontin%e her letter, is that a lot of eole %se their "redit "ards
not $%st as a ni"e and "onvenient way of not having to %se "ash//when ! go shoing, ! am going
to %se my "redit "ard and ! will ay it off at the end of the month. 0hat a ni"e thing. No, eole
are %sing their "redit "ards to b%y food, to b%y gas, and to b%y the basi" ne"essities of life. !t is
their only line of "redit oen. And then, as ! mentioned earlier, they are "harged :? or -= er"ent
interest rates on what they owe.
She "ontin%es8
My h%sband and ! are very nervo%s abo%t what will haen to %s when we are old. Altho%gh
we have three $obs between %s and arti"iate in 5=-;b< retirement lans, we have not saved
eno%gh for a realisti" ost worklife if we s%rvive to o%r life e'e"tan"y. As we aroa"h the
traditional retirement age, we are slowly aying off o%r da%ghter4s "ollege t%ition loan and trying
to kee o%r heads above water. 0e have always lived fr%gally. 0e b%y %sed "ars and store brand
gro"eries, re"y"le everything, walk or "ar ool, when ossible, and lasti" o%r windows ea"h fall.
0hat that means is that, in Vermont, if yo% don4t have good storm windows, yo% %t % lasti".
!t is a way to kee the wind o%t and kee the home warm. ! know abo%t that be"a%se ! %sed to do
that.
Even so, if and when o%r son de"ides to attend "ollege, we will be in dee debt at age A?.
Please//
And here she ends this.
P.S. Please don4t %se my name. ! live in a small town, and this is so embarrassing.
So embarrassing. 0e sho%ld be embarrassed, not her. 0e sho%ld be embarrassed that we are
for one se"ond talking abo%t a roosal whi"h gives ta' breaks to billionaires while we are
ignoring the needs of working families, low/in"ome eole, and the middle "lass. 0e sho%ld be
embarrassed that we are not investing in o%r infrastr%"t%re, that we are not breaking % these
large finan"ial instit%tions, that we are not %tting a "a on interest rates, that we are the only
"o%ntry in the world that does not have health "are for all of o%r eole//of ma$or "o%ntries. 0e
sho%ld be embarrassed, not this wonderf%l woman who is trying to maintain her dignity.
Another letter from the State of Vermont.
! too have been str%ggling to over"ome the in"reasing "ost of gas, heating oil, food, ta'es, et
"etera. ! have to say that this is the to%ghest year finan"ially that ! have ever e'erien"ed in my
5, years on this Earth. ! have what %sed to be "onsidered a de"ent $ob. ! work hard, in"h my
ennies, b%t the ennies have all b%t dried %. ! am thankf%l that my emloyer %nderstands that
many of %s "annot afford to drive to work ? days a week. !nstead, ! work - ,?/ho%r days. ! have
taken odd $obs to try to make ends meet. 7his winter, after keeing the heat $%st high eno%gh to
kee my ies from b%rsting//
&ne of the roblems yo% have, when yo% live in a r%ral State and it gets "old, yo%r ies "an
b%rst, and then yo% have to send a fort%ne getting them reaired.
She "ontin%es8
7he bedrooms are not heated and never go above -= degrees.
0hat haens in Vermont, if yo% have a home, in the wintertime, and yo% don4t have a whole
lot of money, yo% kind of "lose off rooms in the ho%se be"a%se yo% "an4t afford to heat the whole
ho%se. So eole live in a smaller area.
She "ontin%es8
! began selling off my woodworking tools, snow blower, ennies on the dollar, and f%rnit%re
that had been handed down in my family from the early ,.==s $%st to kee the heat on. 7oday, !
am sad, broken and very dis"o%raged. ! am thankf%l the winter "old is behind %s for a while b%t
now gas ri"es are arising yet again. ! $%st "an4t kee %.
7hat is the story from one erson in Vermont. 3%t that is the story for millions and millions of
Ameri"ans.
Another story. And the reason ! am reading these stories//and ! are"iate my staff bringing
this booklet down here//is this %ts flesh and blood and real life into the statisti"s. 7he statisti"s
are frightening eno%gh, b%t this tells %s what haens when the middle "lass of this "o%ntry
"ollases. !t tells %s what haens when eole lose de"ent/aying $obs. !t tells %s what haens
when the government does not rovide the kind of basi" s%ort system that it sho%ld for eole
in need.
6ere is another letter8
As a single arent, ! am str%ggling every day to %t food on the table.
Mr. President, this is the Bnited States of Ameri"a and eole are talking, in my State of
Vermont and all over the "o%ntry, abo%t str%ggling to %t food on the table. 0hat "omes to my
mind now//and ! don4t know if yo% saw them, Mr. President//are some arti"les in the aer that
talked abo%t be"a%se of the bailing o%t of 0all Street, and the fa"t that 0all Street is now again
rofitable, these e'e"%tives there are now making more money than they made before the
bailo%t, and they go into resta%rants and they ay tho%sands of dollars for a bottle of wine, ay
h%ndreds and h%ndreds of dollars for some fan"y dinner. (et in my State and all over this
"o%ntry there are eole who are wondering where their ne't meal is "oming from.
She "ontin%es8
&%r "lothing all "omes from thrift stores. ! have a ?/year/old "ar that needs work. My son is
gifted and talented. ! tried to sell my ho%se to enroll him in a s"hool that had "%rri"%l%m
available for his se"ial needs. After : years on the market, my ho%se never sold. 7he roerty
ta'es have nearly do%bled in ,= years.
*et me i"k % on that oint. 0e don4t deal with roerty ta'es here//! did when ! was a
mayor//b%t if we are not ade1%ately f%nding ed%"ation, if we do not ade1%ately hel "ities and
towns all over this "o%ntry in terms of fire rote"tion and in terms of oli"e rote"tion and
ho%sing, a lot of that b%rden falls on the very regressive roerty ta', whi"h in my State of
Vermont is very high. And yo% find it referred to time and time again that roerty ta'es are
going %. Proerty ta'es are going %.
She writes8
Proerty ta'es have nearly do%bled in ,= years. And the oil to heat is rohibitive. 7o meet the
needs of my son, ! have left the ho%se sit and moved into an aartment near his high s"hool. !
don4t go to "h%r"h many S%ndays be"a%se the gasoline is too e'ensive to drive there.
!magine8 She doesn4t go to "h%r"h on S%ndays be"a%se the gasoline is too e'ensive to drive
there.
Every tho%ght of an a"tivity is deendent %on the "ost. ! "an only %r"hase food from dented
"an stores.
Does anybody in this 2ongress know what a dented "an store isC Do yo% know that many
eole b%y their gro"eries and they get them "heaer be"a%se the "ans are dentedC Most
Members of the Senate and the 6o%se, most 9overnors do not get their meals from dented "ans,
b%t h%ge n%mbers of Ameri"ans do.
She then "on"l%des8
! am stret"hed to the breaking oint with no hel in sight.
3y the way, the letters that ! re"eived, when ! asked for letters, "ame not $%st from the State of
Vermont//most "ame from Vermont b%t some "ame from other areas. ! will read another from
Vermont and then one from r%ral Pennsylvania.
7his one from Vermont8
D%e to illness, my ability to work has been severely limited. ! am making +,= an ho%r, and if !
am l%"ky, ! get -? ho%rs a week of work.
*et me %ll away from the letter. 7hat is not an %n%s%al wage in the State of Vermont. 7hat is
not an %n%s%al wage all over Ameri"a. 7hat is what eole earn, +,= an ho%r, times 5= ho%rs. 6e
doesn4t get 5= ho%rs. 6e makes +-?= a week. 7en times 5=, 5==, times ?=, +:,,=== a year. Sho"k
of all sho"ks, that is reality. 7hat is what eole are trying to live on. 7hose are the eole that
we sho%ld be heling, not the 2E&s on 0all Street who will get +, million a year in a ta' break
if this deal goes thro%gh. Not the eole who are in the to three/tenths of , er"ent, who o%r
Re%bli"an friends want to hel by reealing the estate ta', whi"h will "ost %s +, trillion in ,=
years. Maybe we sho%ld "on"entrate on heling eole who are trying to get by eating food from
dented "ans or eole who "an4t afford to drive to "h%r"h on S%nday be"a%se they "an4t afford the
ri"e of a gallon of gas. Maybe we sho%ld remember who sent %s here and who made this
"o%ntry.
She writes8
! am making +,= an ho%r, and if ! am l%"ky ! get -? ho%rs a week of work. At this time, ! am
only getting := ho%rs, as it is off season in Stowe.
Stowe, V7, is a bea%tif%l town. ! hoe everybody "omes to visit %s % there. 7here is great
skiing, b%t it is a resort town. 3ig time in the winter. 0e are doing better in the s%mmer, b%t it is
a resort town. Resorts get more b%siness in the winter than s%mmer and less time elsewhere.
So what she is talking abo%t is that it is off season % there and she is only getting := ho%rs a
week of work at +,= an ho%r.
She writes8
!t does not take a mathemati"ian to do the fig%res.
! am sorry, this is a man, not a woman.
6ow are my wife and ! s%osed to live on a monthly take/home in"ome of less than +.== a
monthC 0e do it by sending o%r hard/earned retirement savings. ! am ?= and my wife is 5@. At
the rate we are going, we will be destit%te in $%st a few years. 7he sit%ation is so dire it is all that
! "an think abo%t. Soon ! will have to start walking to work//an ./mile ro%nd tri//be"a%se the
ri"e of energy is so high that it is either that or going witho%t heat.
7his is a ?=/year/old g%y, making +,= an ho%r, := or -= ho%rs a week, and his "hoi"e is either
walking . miles to and from his $ob in Stowe or else not heating his home. And this haens in
Vermont all of the time. !t is 1%ite %nbelievable.
6e says8
As bad as o%r sit%ation is, ! know many in worse shae. 0e try to donate food when we do o%r
weekly shoing, b%t now we are not able to even afford to hel o%r neighbors eat. 0hat has this
"o%ntry "ome toC
! don4t know abo%t other arts of the "o%ntry. ! am s%re it is the same. 3%t if yo% go to a
gro"ery store, there is often a bin o%t there in front where eole b%y food and they dro a "an of
eas or a "an of "orn or something into it. 6ere is a g%y who is now fa"ed with the reality of
having to walk . miles to and from work and he is %set at himself that he does not have the
money to b%y food for his neighbors who he thinks are even worse off than he is. 7hat is the
good eole of Vermont and Ameri"a. 7hey are all over this "o%ntry, good and de"ent eole
who do worry abo%t their neighbors.
7hen yo% have the lobbyists here reresenting the largest "ororations in the world where the
2E&s make tens of millions of dollars a year and their $ob is to s1%eeDe the middle "lass and
these families harder and harder, "%t ba"k on their benefits in order to give ta' breaks to the
ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry. 0hat a differen"e in attit%de8 A oor man fa"ed with the "hoi"e of
either walking . miles to and from his $ob or losing his heat, worried abo%t his neighbors, and
yo% have the lobbyists here worrying abo%t the ri"hest eole in the world//and winning. And
winning.
7hen ! got a letter that "omes not from Vermont, it "omes from r%ral Pennsylvania8
! am ?? years old and worse off than my ad%lt "hildren. ! have worked sin"e age ,A. ! don4t live
from ay"he"k to ay"he"k, ! live day to day. ! "an only afford to fill my gas tank on my ayday.
7hereafter ! %t +?, +,=, whatever that ! "an. ! "annot afford to b%y the food items that ! wo%ld. !
am riding aro%nd daily, to and from work, with a 1%arter of a tank of gas. 7his is very s"ary. !
"an see myself working %ntil the day that ! die.
7r%st me, the gentleman is talking abo%t getting older, worrying abo%t working %ntil the day he
dies. 0e are already seeing this. (o% go to gro"ery stores in Vermont and yo% see old eole,
who sho%ld be sitting home with their grand"hildren. Do yo% know what they are doingC 7hey
are a"king gro"eries. 7hen we have some geni%ses on this defi"it red%"tion "ommission, eole
who made their money on 0all Street, they have a brilliant idea8 *et4s raise the So"ial Se"%rity
age to A., A@ years old so that eole like this will have to work, in fa"t, to the day they die.
6e "ontin%es. 7his is not from Vermont. 7his is from Pennsylvania8
! do not have savings, no "redit "ards and my only reso%r"es are thro%gh my emloyment. !
have to drive to work as there are no b%ses from my residen"e to work. ! don4t know how m%"h
longer ! "an do this. ! am "on"erned as gas ri"es "limb daily. ! am $%st tired. 7he harder that !
work the harder it gets. ! work ,: to ,5 ho%rs daily and it $%st doesn4t hel.
! am not saying every erson in Ameri"a is e'erien"ing these stories. 7hey are not. A lot of
eole are doing fine. 7hey have good $obs. 7heir kids are doing well. 7hey are taking "are of
their arents. A lot of eole are doing $%st fine. 3%t we wo%ld be fools and dishonest not to
%nderstand the reality of what is going on in this "o%ntry. !t breaks my heart, and ! know it
breaks the hearts of millions of eole in this "o%ntry, to see what is going on in this great Nation
of o%rs8 that so many eole are h%rting, that so many arents//! don4t know if ! have that letter
or if it is in another booklet. ! will never forget one letter ! re"eived, and that is these eole//my
arents never went to "ollege. My father never grad%ated high s"hool. 7hey wanted their kids to
get an ed%"ation) that is what they wanted//and we did. !t was very imortant, and how ro%d my
mother was of that.
0e get letters from eole who say8 (o% know, ! dreamed that my kid, my da%ghter, wo%ld go
to "ollege, and she is not going to go to "ollege now. She is not going to go to "ollege.
!t is $%st ainf%l to even talk abo%t and think abo%t, the dire"tion in whi"h this "o%ntry is
moving. So ! want to now take a break from reading these letters. A"t%ally, the tr%th is, when
these letters "ame in a year ago ! "o%ld not read more than a half doDen at a time. 7hey took too
m%"h o%t of me. 7hey take something o%t of yo% to hear eole yo% know, good eole, honest
eole//! hear from some of my "olleag%es here that eole are laDy. My 9od, eole work so
hard in the State of Vermont. 0e have ! don4t know how many tho%sands of eole are not
working $%st two or three $obs, they work fo%r $obs. !t is all over this "o%ntry. 0hatever yo% say
abo%t the Bnited States of Ameri"a, the eole of o%r "o%ntry are not laDy. 7hat is one thing yo%
"an say abo%t them.
!n fa"t, a""ording to all of the bloodless statisti"s, o%r eole today work longer ho%rs than do
the eole of any other ma$or "o%ntry on Earth. Did yo% know thatC ! don4t know that a lot of
Ameri"ans know that. !t %sed to be Gaan. 7he Gaanese are a very hard/working eole. Now it
t%rns o%t that o%r eole work harder, longer ho%rs than do the eole of any other "o%ntry in the
ind%strialiDed world.
0hen yo% think abo%t that, when ! think abo%t the books that ! read when ! was in elementary
s"hool//! remember there were i"t%res % there. ! don4t know if yo% remember these i"t%res.
7here were i"t%res where workers were demonstrating, and they said8 0e want a 5=/ho%r
workweek. Do yo% remember seeing those i"t%resC 0e want a 5=/ho%r workweek. 7hat was
ba"k in the early ,@==s.
7oday, ,== years later, eole still want a 5=/ho%r workweek be"a%se they are for"ed to work
?= or A= ho%rs a week. 7hey are working two $obs. 7hey are working three $obs.
0hat ! want to do now, before ! get ba"k to why ! am on the Senate floor today, and why !
have been here for a few ho%rs//whi"h is to say the agreement negotiated by the President and
the Re%bli"an leadershi is not a good agreement. !t is an agreement that we "an imrove %on.
!t is an agreement the Ameri"an eole "an imrove %on. 3%t what ! am asking the Ameri"an
eole to do is to stand %, let yo%r Senators, let yo%r 2ongressman know how yo% feel.
Do yo% really believe millionaires and billionaires who have done henomenally well in re"ent
years need an e'tended ta' "%t at a time when their ta'es have been lowered s%bstantially in
re"ent yearsC Do we really need to give ta' breaks to the ri"h in order to drive % the national
debt so o%r kids and grand"hildren will ay higher ta'es in order to ay off that national debt
"a%sed by ta' breaks for the ri"hC
!f yo% do not believe that, if yo% do not think that is right, let the President of the Bnited States
know abo%t it. *et yo%r Senator know abo%t it. *et yo%r 2ongressman know abo%t it. 0e need a
handf%l, seven or eight Members of the Senate to hear from their eole, to say8 0ait a min%te.
Don4t hold my kids hostage. Don4t for"e them to ay higher ta'es in order to give ta' breaks to
the very ri"h.
!f the Ameri"an eole stand % and by the millions let their Senators and 2ongressmen and
the President know, we "an win this thing. 0e "an win this battle. !t is not too late yet. 7hat is
what ! hoe will haen.
0hen we talk abo%t why things go on the way they are here in 0ashington, and why so many
eole ba"k home//whether they are Demo"rats, Re%bli"ans, !ndeendent//whether they are
"onservatives, rogressives, moderates, whatever they are//there is a h%ge feeling of anger and
fr%stration and, in fa"t, disg%st at what goes on here in 0ashington.
! have $%st read some letters from eole. (o% "an m%ltily those letters by , million. Peole
are saying8 Don4t yo% hear %sC Don4t yo% know what is going on in o%r livesC Don4t yo% know the
worries we have for o%r kids, for o%r arentsC Aren4t yo% listening to %sC
!n many ways ! am afraid the Senate is not listening to them, nor is the 6o%se, nor is o%r
9overnment. 0hat worries me so m%"h abo%t this growing "on"entration of wealth and in"ome
in this "o%ntry is that when the ri"h get ri"her, they don4t $%st simly %t their money %nder the
mattress. 7hey don4t simly go o%t and b%y ya"hts and lanes and ,. homes and all the things
ri"h eole do. 7hey do that, b%t they do something else.
7hey say8 ! am not ri"h eno%gh. ! need to be ri"her. 0hat motivates some of these eole is
greed and greed and more greed. 7here is no end to it. So what they do is they do things like hire
lobbyists//who are all over 2aitol 6ill. 7hese lobbyists, sometimes former leaders of the
Re%bli"an Party, former leaders of the Demo"rati" Party, former hotshot lawyers, bright eole,
their $ob is to make s%re the legislation we ass//s%"h as this ma$or ta' bill//that this legislation
benefits not ordinary Ameri"ans, not the eole whose letters ! have $%st read, not those eole,
b%t the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry and the largest "ororations.
! want to $%st mention something. A very good friend of mine and ! do a radio show every
#riday afternoon//! am afraid ! missed it today//7om 6artman. 7om is the a%thor of a n%mber of
wonderf%l books.
!n his latest book, whi"h is "alled EERebooting the Ameri"an Dream, ,, 0ays to Reb%ild &%r
2o%ntry,44 7om writes and he talks abo%t lobbying, whi"h is an iss%e we have to deal with in this
"o%ntry. 6e says, on age ,=58
9iven how l%"rative lobbying is as an investment, it has be"ome a h%ge b%siness.
!n other words, what he is talking abo%t is, if yo% have a good lobbyist and the lobbyist
"hanges a few words in a bill, yo%r "omany or yo% as an individ%al "an end % with h%ge
amo%nts of money $%st by "hanging a few words. !n this "ase, lang%age that we are working on
now is whether we e'tend the 3%sh ta' breaks for the to : er"ent, for many millionaires and
billionaires. Some lobbyists, reresenting the ri"h and the owerf%l, are determined to kee that
lang%age in there.
So it is an investment. So yo% send a few million dollars, an organiDation sends a few
million dollars on a lobbyist, b%t if yo% end % getting ba"k h%ndreds of millions of dollars in ta'
breaks and "ororate looholes or other benefits, it is a very good investment. 7hat is what 7om
6artman is writing. 6e says8
9iven how l%"rative lobbying is as an investment it has be"ome a h%ge b%siness. !n #ebr%ary,
:=,=, the 2enter for Resonsive Politi"s laid o%t whi"h ind%stries had invested how m%"h in
2ongress the revio%s year. &verall, it fo%nd that in :==@ the n%mber of registered lobbyists who
a"tively lobby 2ongress was ,-,A@5 and the total lobbying sending//
9et this. 7otal lobbying sending in :==@ was +-.5> billion, a :5=/er"ent in"rease sin"e ,@@@,
,= years, more than triling it, ! g%ess. !n :==@ "omanies sent +-.5> billion in lobbying. 0e
have ,== Members of the Senate, 5-? Members of the 6o%se. *isteners or viewers "an get o%t
their "al"%lating ma"hine and divide it %, how m%"h money the big money interests are
sending trying to infl%en"e Senator #nouye or myself or the other @. Members of the Senate or
5-? Members of the 6o%se. 7hey are flooding this instit%tion with money.
*et me give yo% $%st a breakdown of where that money is "oming from. 0hat they "all
mis"ellaneo%s b%siness, that is retail and man%fa"t%ring, et "etera, +??. million in one year,
:==@) health "are, +?5- million.
3y the way, that was before health "are reform. My strong g%ess//! will be very s%rrised if
that n%mber did not do%ble. !f yo% were a health "are lobbyist this year, tr%st me, yo% are doing
very well. 7hey were all over this la"e, making s%re we did not ass a strong health "are bill, for
e'amle, in Medi"are for all, a single/ayer rogram, whi"h ! s%ort. &n to of that, yo% have
the finan"e, ins%ran"e and real estate ind%stries "ombined that sent +5A? million.
And, again, that was before we dealt with finan"ial reform. ! s%ose the re"ent legislation we
dealt with, health "are reform and finan"ial reform, was a real boon to the lobbyists aro%nd here,
be"a%se they "an go o%t and earn their money. 3%t that was before this. #inan"e, ins%ran"e, real
estate, only sent +5A? million in , year to infl%en"e ,== Members of the Senate and 5-?
Members of the 6o%se.
Energy and nat%ral reso%r"es. 0ell, as ! mentioned earlier today, E''onMobil last year made
+,@ billion, aid nothing in ta'es, got a +,?A million ref%nd. E''onMobil and other "omanies
are %tting all kinds of money into hony organiDations telling %s that global warming is not real,
we do not have to transform o%r energy system) "osts a lot of money to do that. 7he energy and
nat%ral reso%r"es "omanies sent +5=. million in :==@ alone. 7his is , year, folks, , year.
2omm%ni"ations, ele"troni"s. Right now ! am working on an iss%e whi"h deals with the
merger of 2om"ast and N32. ! think it is a bad idea. 2om"ast is the largest rovider of "able
servi"es in Ameri"a, h%ge role in the !nternet, and N32 is one of the largest media
"onglomerates in Ameri"a. 0hat they are trying to do right now is to merge, these two h%ge
"omanies.
! think the roblem in Ameri"a is we have too few "omanies "ontrolling what goes on. 0e
have too m%"h of a "on"entration of ownershi, and that merger is bad. 0ell, ! "an ass%re yo%
for a fa"t, they have all of these lobbyists in the media ind%stry, from "omm%ni"ations, right here
rallying, trying to do their best to make s%re this merger and other tye mergers take la"e//+-A=
million from the "omm%ni"ation and ele"troni"s ind%stry.
7hen we have other tyes of organiDations as well. 3ottom line, in the year :==@, they sent
+-.5> billion, almost - ,H: billion, on lobbying. And yo% know what, yo% get what yo% ay for.
7hat is $%st lobbying. 0e are not talking abo%t "amaign "ontrib%tions. 0e are not talking
abo%t the h%ge s%ms of money it now takes to r%n for offi"e in the Bnited States, and we are not
talking abo%t where that money "omes from. 0e are not talking abo%t the 2itiDens Bnited
horrendo%s de"ision rea"hed by the S%reme 2o%rt whi"h allows billionaires and all of these
"omanies and their e'e"%tives to %t money into "amaigns and not even have to be identified.
0e are not even talking abo%t that. 7his is $%st lobbying.
So if yo% wonder why we are having a serio%s dis"%ssion abo%t whether we sho%ld give ta'
breaks to millionaires and billionaires while the middle "lass is "ollasing, and tens of millions
of eole have no health ins%ran"e, and we have the highest rate of "hildren in overty, and we
have the most %ne1%al distrib%tion of wealth and in"ome of any "o%ntry, if yo% wonder how we
wo%ld "onsider for , min%te talking abo%t more ta' breaks for the ri"h, then yo% do not know
m%"h abo%t what goes on here in 0ashington and yo% do not know abo%t "amaign
"ontrib%tions and the degree to whi"h big money b%ys and sells oliti"ians.
! want to review again//the reason ! am down here today, and ! have been here for a few
ho%rs//and voi"e my very strong oosition to the agreement that was rea"hed between the
Re%bli"an leadershi and President &bama. ! think the Ameri"an eole do not like this
agreement. All ! "an tell yo%//! do not know what is going on in yo%r offi"e, "oming from
Alaska, Mr. President, b%t ! "an tell yo% in the last - days, between hone "alls and e/mails, !
robably have gotten ?,===. 0e have heard from abo%t ?,=== eole, many from Vermont, some
from o%t of State as well.
7he oosition to this agreement is robably @@ er"ent. Peole "annot %nderstand why in a
million years, with a +,-.> trillion national debt, and a +,.5 trillion yearly defi"it, we wo%ld be
thinking for one se"ond, for one se"ond, abo%t giving ta' breaks to the ri"hest eole in this
"o%ntry who are already doing fab%lo%sly well.
! am down here today, and have been for a few ho%rs, to %rge my "olleag%es and, more
imortantly, the Ameri"an eole, to say no to this agreement. !f we stand together, if the
Ameri"an eole write or e/mail or "all their Senators and their 2ongress eole, ! think we "an
t%rn this thing aro%nd. ! think we "an "ome % with an agreement that makes %s all ro%d, rather
than one that we have to be ashamed for.
! know there was an editorial ba"k in the State of Vermont whi"h ! saw. ! do not remember the
e'a"t title, b%t something to the effe"t of8 7his agreement stinks, it is odio%s, b%t it is better than
nothing. 0ell, ! do not think that has to be the "hoi"e, awf%l or better than nothing. ! think the
"hoi"e "an a"t%ally be a good agreement. And ! think if the Ameri"an eole stand with those of
%s who are oosing this agreement, we "an %ll this off. 0e "an defeat this agreement and
"ome % with a m%"h better one, one that does not "a%se o%r kids and grand"hildren to ay
higher ta'es in order to rovide h%ge ta' breaks for the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry.
!n talking abo%t the reasons ! am oosed to this agreement, one of the other reasons is that
while the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi say, well, yo% know, this is $%st a temorary
e'tension, it is going to be for : years, $%st temorary, yo% know and ! know that when yo% talk
abo%t temorary here, it be"omes long term and then erhas be"omes ermanent.
!f we e'tend these ta' breaks for the to : er"ent now, my strong g%ess//! hoe ! am wrong. !
"ertainly hoe this roosal is defeated, b%t if we e'tend them for : years, my strong g%ess is
they will be, : years from now, e'tended again. And deending %on the oliti"s of what goes on
here, they "an be e'tended ermanently.
&%r Re%bli"an "olleag%es, as yo% well know, wanted to e'tend them for ,= years at a "ost of
+>== billion. An in"rease in o%r national debt. &%r Re%bli"an friends are fighting hard to
"omletely reeal the estate ta', whi"h wo%ld "ost %s +, trillion, +, trillion in ,= years in
in"reased national debt.
So the oint ! have got to make//! want to emhasiDe this oint, that when eole talk abo%t
these things being short term, being temorary, take those tho%ghts with a grain of salt. Maybe
that is the "ase. ! do not think it is. ! think on"e yo% move over the "liff and make that de"ision to
e'tend these ta' breaks, they are going to be e'tended long term. 6ere is the reason why. Right
now the dynami" here is the President "amaigned against these ta' breaks. 7he President does
not believe in e'tending these ta' breaks for the ri"h. 3%t he felt he had to make the "omromise.
! tho%ght he made a bad "omromise.
3%t o%r Re%bli"an friends are saying over and over that if yo% res"ind, end these ta' breaks to
the ri"h, yo% are raising ta'es : years from now in the midst of a Presidential "amaign, when
President &bama, if he is the Demo"rati" "andidate, says8 Do not worry, ! am going to oose
these e'tensions of ta' breaks for the ri"h, his "redibility has been severely damaged, and the
Ameri"an eole know it. 2an they tr%st himC 7hat is what he told them then. 7hat is what he
will tell them in : years. !s he going to be believedC ! do not think so. So these ta' breaks, while
ostensibly for : years may, in fa"t, be for a lot longer than that.
! wo%ld also say that while we have talked abo%t//rimarily the dis"%ssion has "entered aro%nd
e'tending the ta' breaks, ersonal in"ome ta' breaks to the very ri"h, there are other ta' breaks
in this roosal whi"h are e1%ally odio%s.
0hat this agreement between the President and the Re%bli"an leadershi does is it e'tends the
3%sh era ,?/er"ent ta' rates on "aital gains and dividends, meaning that those eole who
make their living off of their investments will "ontin%e to ay a s%bstantially lower ta' rate than
firemen, tea"hers, and n%rses.
7hink abo%t that. (o% are a big/time investor. (o% make most of yo%r in"ome off of "aital
gains or dividends, and yo% are aying a ,?/er"ent ta' rate. 3%t if yo% are a worker doing
something with yo%r hands or yo% are a tea"her or a fireman or yo% are a "o or n%rse, a do"tor,
yo% are aying ta' rates that are higher than that. 0e are e'tending those ,?/er"ent ta' rates on
"aital gains and dividends.
7hen, on to of that, this agreement in"l%des a horrendo%s roosal regarding the estate ta'.
7he estate ta' was ena"ted in ,@,A, and it was a roosal strongly s%orted by 7eddy
Roosevelt, who believed very strongly that it was not healthy for Ameri"a to have an ongoing
and evolving "on"entration of ownershi. 6ere is what 7eddy Roosevelt said in ,@,=8
7he absen"e of effe"tive State, and, ese"ially, national, restraint %on %nfair money/getting
has tended to "reate a small "lass of enormo%sly wealthy and e"onomi"ally owerf%l men, whose
"hief ob$e"t is to hold and in"rease their ower. 7he rime need is to "hange the "onditions
whi"h enable these men to a""%m%late ower whi"h is not for the general welfare that they
sho%ld hold or e'er"ise ..... No man sho%ld re"eive a dollar %nless that dollar has been fairly
earned. Every dollar re"eived sho%ld reresent a dollar4s worth of servi"e rendered//not gambling
in sto"ks, b%t servi"e rendered. 7he really big fort%ne, the swollen fort%ne, by the mere fa"t of its
siDe a"1%ires 1%alities whi"h differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is assed by
men of relatively small means. 7herefore, ! believe in a grad%ated in"ome ta' on big fort%nes,
and in another ta' whi"h is far more easily "olle"ted and far more effe"tive//a grad%ated
inheritan"e ta' on big fort%nes, roerly safeg%arded against evasion and in"reasing raidly in
amo%nt with the siDe of the estate.
6ow is thatC &ne h%ndred years ago. 7hat is what he said. ! wo%ld say he got it right when he
said that. !t is even more tr%e today, hen"e the estate ta'.
Bnfort%nately, %nder the agreement rea"hed by the President and the Re%bli"ans, the estate
ta' rate, whi"h was ?? er"ent %nder President 2linton when the e"onomy, by the way, was a
he"k of a lot stronger than it is today, will de"line to -? er"ent with an e'emtion on the first +?
million of an individ%al4s estate and +,= million for a "o%le.
! made this oint earlier, b%t ! think it has got to be made over and over. &%r Re%bli"an
friends have renamed the estate ta' the death ta'. 7he imli"ation of what they are saying, and
what many Ameri"ans believe, is that if ! have +,==,=== in the bank or +?=,=== in the bank and !
die, my kids are going to have to ay a heavy estate ta' on what ! left them. 3%t that is absol%tely
and "ategori"ally not the "ase. 7he estate ta' alies only to the to three/tenths of , er"ent.
7his is not a ta' on the ri"h. 7his is a ta' on the very, very, very ri"h. And %nder this roosal,
whi"h benefits only the to three/tenths of , er"ent, the President and the Re%bli"ans agreed to
lower the ta' rate on the estate ta' to -? er"ent, with an e'emtion on the first +? million.
7hat is wrong. *et me give yo% an e'amle of who the folks are who will benefit from doing
this. Many of my Re%bli"an "olleag%es have been %shing very hard, not $%st to lower the ta'
rate//by the way, this -? er"ent is lower, ! think, than they ever dreamed they wo%ld get, with a
+? million e'emtion, b%t what they wanted %ltimately, and ! s%se"t will "ontin%e to fight for, is
the "omlete reeal of the estate ta'.
7o give one e'amle//and ! don4t mean to i"k on the 0alton family, b%t $%st as a flesh/and/
blood e'amle//Sam 0alton4s family, the heirs to the 0almart fort%ne, are worth, give or take,
+.A billion. 7hat is a lot of money. 7he 0alton family wo%ld re"eive an estimated +-:.> billion
ta' break if the estate ta' was "omletely reealed. Does anybody in their right mind believe that
when this "o%ntry has a national debt of +,-.> trillion and when we have the highest rate of
"hildhood overty in the ind%strialiDed world and o%r %nemloyment rate is @.. er"ent, "an
anybody for one se"ond fathom Members of the Senate saying they want to give a +-: billion ta'
break to one familyC
!n terms of the estate ta', what we have done is made it even more regressive. 0e have given
s%bstantial hel to e'a"tly the eole who need it the least. 7hat is not what we sho%ld be doing.
&%r $ob//and ! know it is a radi"al idea//sho%ld be to reresent the vast ma$ority of the eole,
the middle "lass, the working families, and not $%st the to , or : er"ent. 7his roosal, this
lowering of the estate ta', whi"h will "ost o%r government s%bstantial s%ms of money be"a%se
the reven%e is not going to "ome in, will benefit only the to three/tenths of , er"ent.
Again, if some of my Re%bli"an "olleag%es are s%""essf%l in their desire//and they are moving
down the ath//if we reeal the estate ta' entirely, whi"h is what they want to do//it is hard to
believe, and some of the listeners o%t there think ! am kidding, b%t ! am deadly serio%s//it will
drive % the national debt by +, trillion over a ,=/year eriod. *owering the estate ta' rate and
raising the e'emtion is "learly an onero%s rovision.
!t is not only the 0alton family of 0almart who will benefit. A""ording to #orbes magaDine,
there are 5=- billionaires living in this "o%ntry with a "ombined net worth of +,.- trillion. 7hat is
not shabby. 7hat is retty good. Anyone l%"ky eno%gh to inherit this e'traordinary wealth wo%ld
benefit the most from reealing the estate ta'.
As Robert #rank wrote in his book ORi"histan448
7he wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry a""%m%lated so m%"h wealth that they have been
"ometing to see who "o%ld own the largest rivate ya"ht, who "o%ld own the most rivate $ets,
who "o%ld own the most e'ensive "ars, $ewelry, artwork, et "etera. !n ,@@>, for e'amle, *eslie
0e'ner, "hairman of *imited 3rands, the "omany that owns Vi"toria4s Se"ret//
And none of %s know what Vi"toria4s Se"ret is//
aid a 9erman shimaker to b%ild what was then the largest rivate ya"ht in the Bnited States.
!t is "alled 7he *imitless.
7here is a hoto. !t is a ni"e boat. !t stret"hes -,? feet and has -,=== s1%are feet of teakwood
and a gym.
A""ording to #orbes magaDine, Mr. 0e'ner is one of the wealthiest 5== eole in this "o%ntry,
worth an estimated +:.- billion. Permanently reealing the estate ta' wo%ld allow Mr. 0e'ner4s
two "hildren to inherit all of his wealth witho%t aying a ni"kel to hel this "o%ntry deal with the
enormo%s roblems we have.
! wish Mr. 0e'ner//! don4t know him) ! hoe he is alive and well//a long life. 3%t ! believe
strongly that in this "o%ntry, if we are going to see the middle "lass s%rvive and o%r kids do well,
we "annot reeal the estate ta' and we "annot lower estate ta' rates.
! wish to address another iss%e whi"h ! talked abo%t earlier. ! think there is some
mis%nderstanding. 7he Presiding &ffi"er raised this iss%e at a re"ent meeting we had. All over
the "o%ntry, eole say8 !sn4t it great that we are going to lower the ayroll ta' on workersC 0e
are going to go from A.: er"ent, whi"h workers now ay, down to 5.: er"ent. Peole are going
to have more money in their o"ket, whi"h "ertainly is a good thing. !t is going to "ost +,:=
billion in So"ial Se"%rity ayroll ta'es.
6ere is the oint. (es, we do want to %t more money in workers4 o"kets. 7hat is why many
of %s in the stim%l%s a"kage s%orted a +5==/a/year ta' break for virt%ally every worker in
Ameri"a. 7hat is what we said. 0e want eole in these diffi"%lt times to have the money to take
"are of their families. 0hen they have that money, they go o%t and send it. 0hen they send it,
it "reates other $obs be"a%se eole have to rovide goods and servi"es for them. !t has a good,
stim%lative ima"t. 0e do want workers to have more money in their o"kets.
0hile this idea of lowering the ayroll ta' so%nds like a good idea, in tr%th, it really is not a
good idea. 7his idea originated from very "onservative Re%bli"ans whose intention from the
beginning was to destroy So"ial Se"%rity by "hoking off the f%nds that go to it. 7his is not $%st
3ernie Sanders4 analysis. 7here was re"ently//! distrib%ted it re"ently at a meeting we held//a
news release that "ame from the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are.
7he headline on that ress release is EE2%tting 2ontrib%tions to So"ial Se"%rity Signals the
3eginning of the End. Payroll 7a' 6oliday is Anything 3%t.44 0hat the National 2ommittee to
Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are, whi"h is one of the largest senior gro%s in Ameri"a,
well %nderstands is that there are eole o%t there who want to destroy So"ial Se"%rity. And one
way to do that is to divert f%nds into the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd and they don4t get there.
0hat the President and others have said is not to worry, this is $%st a ,/year rogram//$%st ,
year. !n fa"t, they say, the 9eneral 7reas%ry will ay the differen"e. So the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st
f%nd is not going to lose f%nding.
7he reason we have a +:.A trillion s%rl%s today in So"ial Se"%rity and the reason So"ial
Se"%rity is good for the ne't :@ years to ay o%t all benefits is be"a%se it "omes from the ayroll
ta'. !t is not deendent %on the whims of the 2ongress and the 7reas%ry.
7he President and Re%bli"ans said8 7his is $%st a ,/year rogram. Don4t worry.
! do worry. ! worry that on"e we establish this ,/year ayroll ta' holiday, ne't year o%r
Re%bli"an friends will say8 Do yo% want to end thatC (o% are going to be raising ta'es on
workers. And eno%gh eole will s%ort that "on"et, and this ,/year ayroll ta' holiday will
be"ome ermanent. And when we do that, we will be "hoking off, over a eriod of years,
trillions of dollars that we need to make s%re So"ial Se"%rity is viable and is there for o%r
"hildren and grand"hildren.
3%t don4t listen to me. *isten to somebody who knows a lot more abo%t this iss%e than ! do.
3arbara Fennelly is a former 2ongresswoman from 2onne"ti"%t. She is the resident and 2E&
of the National 2ommittee to Preserve So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are. 7his is what 3arbara
Fennelly says8
Even tho%gh So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%ted nothing to the "%rrent e"onomi" "risis, it has been
bartered in a deal that rovides defi"it b%sting ta' "%ts for the wealthy. Diverting +,:= billion in
So"ial Se"%rity "ontrib%tions for a so/"alled ta' holiday may so%nd like a good deal for workers
now, b%t it is bad b%siness for a rogram that a ma$ority of middle "lass seniors will rely %on in
the f%t%re.
7he headline is EE2%tting 2ontrib%tions to So"ial Se"%rity Signals the 3eginning of the End.44
7his is not a good aroa"h. Providing and fig%ring o%t a way that we "an get more money into
the hands of working eole, as we did in the stim%l%s a"kage, does make a lot of sense. 9oing
forward with a ayroll ta' holiday is a ba"kdoor method to end % breaking So"ial Se"%rity. !t is
not anything we sho%ld s%ort.
*et me mention a 1%ote from a gentleman who %nderstands this iss%e very well. 6e
%nderstands the oliti"s of what is going on here. 6is name 3r%"e 3artlett, former adviser for
Presidents Reagan and 9eorge 6.0. 3%sh. 6e re"ently wrote the following in oosition to this
ayroll ta' "%t. 7his is what Mr. 3artlett wrote8
0hat are the odds that Re%bli"ans will ever allow this one/year ta' holiday to e'ireC 7hey
wrote the 3%sh ta' "%ts with e'li"it e'iration dates and then when it "ame time for the law
they wrote to take effe"t e'a"tly as they wrote it, they said any fail%re to e'tend them
ermanently wo%ld "onstit%te the biggest ta' in"rease in history. ..... if allowing the 3%sh ta'
"%ts to e'ire is the biggest ta' in"rease in history, one that Re%bli"ans "laim wo%ld de"imate a
still/fragile e"onomy, then s%rely e'iration of a ayroll ta' holiday wo%ld also "onstit%te a
massive ta' in"rease on the working eole of Ameri"a. Re%bli"ans wo%ld refer to destroy
So"ial Se"%rity4s finan"es or ermanently f%nd it with general reven%es//
Swit"h the reven%e base from the ayroll ta' to general reven%es//
than allow a on"e/s%sended ayroll ta' to be reimosed. Ar"h So"ial Se"%rity hater Peter
#errara on"e told me that f%nding it with general reven%es was art of his lan to destroy it by
"onverting So"ial Se"%rity into a welfare rogram, rather than an earned benefit. 6e was right.
!n other words, what this iss%e is abo%t is breaking the bonds we have had sin"e the in"etion
of So"ial Se"%rity where So"ial Se"%rity was aid for by workers. (o% ay for it when yo% are
working, and yo% get the benefits when yo% are old. 7hat is the deal. 7here is no #ederal money
"oming in from the 9eneral 7reas%ry.
7his gentleman, Mr. 3artlett, former adviser to Presidents Reagan and 9eorge 6.0. 3%sh,
thinks//and ! s%se"t he is 1%ite right//this is the beginning of an effort to destroy So"ial
Se"%rity.
7he real debate abo%t So"ial Se"%rity is not one abo%t finan"es.
7here has been a lot of misinformation and disinformation o%t there. ! hear from some of my
friends on the Re%bli"an side that So"ial Se"%rity is going bankr%t) it is not going to be there
for o%r kids. 7hat is absol%tely not tr%e. So"ial Se"%rity today has a +:.A trillion s%rl%s. So"ial
Se"%rity "an ay o%t every benefit owed to every eligible Ameri"an, if we do not start diverting
f%nds, for the ne't :@ years, at whi"h oint it ays o%t abo%t >. er"ent of benefits. So o%r
"hallenge in :@ years is to fill that ::/er"ent ga. 7hat it is. 2an we do itC S%re we "an.
President &bama, when he was "amaigning, and ! think he has reeated sin"e, the very good
s%ggestion that instead of having a "a in terms of whi"h eole "ontrib%te into the f%nd at
+,=A,===, what we sho%ld do is do a b%bble, and eole who make +:?=,=== or more sho%ld
"ontrib%te into the So"ial Se"%rity tr%st f%nd. !f yo% did that and nothing else, yo% have
essentially solved the So"ial Se"%rity roblem for the ne't >? years. Very easy. !t is done.
So what this ayroll ta' holiday is doing, in my view, is retty dangero%s. ! do not think
eno%gh eole %nderstand that. ! think that is one of the strong reasons this agreement sho%ld be
oosed.
Another reason ! believe this agreement is not as good an agreement as we "an get is that it
rovides tens and tens of billions of dollars in ta' "%ts for vario%s tyes of b%sinesses. ! am not
here to say these ta' "%ts "annot do some good. ! s%se"t they "an. 3%t ! think there is a lot better
way to "reate the $obs we need than roviding these arti"%lar b%siness ta' "%ts.
#rankly, ! think e"onomists from almost all oliti"al se"tr%ms//"onservative to rogressive//
%nderstand that if we are serio%s abo%t "reating the kinds of $obs this e"onomy deserately needs
and if we want to do that as raidly and as "ost/effe"tively as we ossibly "an, the way to do that
is not to rovide b%siness ta' "%ts be"a%se right now//right now//"ororate Ameri"a is sitting on
"lose to +: trillion "ash on hand. 7hey have a ton of money. 7he roblem is the rod%"ts they are
"reating are not being bo%ght by the Ameri"an eole be"a%se the Ameri"an eole do not have
the money to b%y those goods and servi"es.
So if we are serio%s abo%t "reating the $obs we need, ! think what we have to do is start making
signifi"ant investments in o%r "r%mbling infrastr%"t%re) that is, reb%ilding o%r bridges, o%r roads,
o%r water systems, broadband, "ell hone servi"e, %bli" transortation, o%r rail system, dams. !n
every single one of these areas, we are seeing o%r infrastr%"t%re "r%mbling.
7he oint is, if yo% simly ignore a "r%mbling infrastr%"t%re//and ! say this as a former mayor
who dealt with this iss%e//if yo% simly ignore a "r%mbling infrastr%"t%re, do yo% know what, it
does not get better all by itself.
! know many mayors and 9overnors wo%ld very m%"h like to think they "o%ld t%rn their ba"ks
on the infrastr%"t%re be"a%se it is not a se'y investment. !t is not a se'y investment. 3%t the
reality is, if yo% do not ay attention to it today, it only gets worse and it "osts yo% more money.
!t is like having a "avity. (o% "an get yo%r "avity filled. !f yo% negle"t it, as ! have, and yo% end
% doing a root "anal, it is far more ainf%l, far more e'ensive. 7hat is what it is abo%t. Do we
maintain o%r infrastr%"t%reC 2learly, we have not. A""ording to the Ameri"an So"iety of 2ivil
Engineers, we sho%ld be sending abo%t +:.: trillion in the ne't ? years in order to maintain o%r
infrastr%"t%re.
! say to the Presiding &ffi"er, ! do not know abo%t Alaska//! sent a very brief time in the
Presiding &ffi"er4s bea%tif%l State//b%t ! do know in Vermont we have bridges all over o%r State
that are in deserate need of reair. !t is fair to say that the stim%l%s a"kage has been very
ositive for my State. 0e are sending more money on roads and bridges. 3%t we have a long
way to go. So we are %tting money into o%r roads and bridges. 0e are hiring eole to do that
work. 7hat is what we sho%ld be doing all over the "o%ntry.
3%t it is not $%st roads and bridges. !t is water systems. ! told this story, ! g%ess a few ho%rs ago
now, abo%t a mayor, the mayor of R%tland, V7, whi"h is the se"ond largest "ity in the State. !
was in his offi"e and he showed me a ie, and the ie was in retty bad shae. 6e said8 (o%
know, this ie was laid by an engineer who then, after he did this, went off to war. And he said8
0hat war do yo% think he went off to fightC And he said it was the 2ivil 0ar//the 2ivil 0ar. So
this was ie laid in R%tland, V7, whi"h is still being %sed, whi"h was laid, ! am g%essing, in the
,.?=s, maybe ,.A=s. And it is not $%st R%tland, V7.
0hen ! was mayor of 3%rlington, we had to send +?= million, ba"k then, := years ago, !
think, reb%ilding o%r wastewater lants and making s%re that a lot of oll%tion and filthy water
did not get into o%r bea%tif%l lake, *ake 2hamlain. !t was an e'ensive roosition. 3%t right
now, we are going to have to invest in that. !t is o%r water systems, o%r dams, o%r levees, o%r
roads, o%r bridges.
! mentioned earlier and "ontrasted what was going on in infrastr%"t%re in the Bnited States as
oosed to 2hina, and ! 1%oted from a book "alled EE7hird 0orld Ameri"a,44 written by Arianna
6%ffington, who tells %s, essentially, if we do not get o%r a"t together, that is what we will
be"ome//a third world "o%ntry.
She oints o%t that "omared to "o%ntries s%"h as 2hina, o%r investments in rail are absol%tely
atheti" and inade1%ate. !n 2hina, right now, that "o%ntry is investing billions and billions of
dollars in high/seed rail, b%ilding tho%sands and tho%sands of miles of high/seed rail. 7hey are
b%ilding over ,== new airorts. And what are we doingC
So one of my many ob$e"tions to the roosal str%"k between the President and the Re%bli"an
leadershi is ! think we "an do better in $ob "reation than in b%siness ta' "%ts. 7here is a time and
a la"e for b%siness ta' "%ts, and ! am not against them. 3%t ! wo%ld say that at this arti"%lar
moment in Ameri"an history, at this arti"%lar moment, it makes a lot more sense to "reate, over
a eriod of years, millions of $obs reb%ilding o%r rail system, o%r s%bways, o%r roads, o%r
bridges, and o%r water systems, and many other ase"ts of o%r infrastr%"t%re.
7here are la"es in Vermont and thro%gho%t this "o%ntry where eole "annot today get
de"ent/1%ality broadband servi"e, "annot get "ell hone servi"e. !n that area, we are behind many
other "o%ntries, not wealthy "o%ntries aro%nd the world. 0hen we make those investments in
infrastr%"t%re, we not only "reate $obs, b%t we make o%r "o%ntry stronger and more rod%"tive,
and we enable o%rselves to "omete effe"tively in the international e"onomy.
Another one of my ob$e"tions to this roosal and why ! think we "an do a lot better is that !
was really 1%ite dist%rbed to hear the President and others, who defend this roosal, talk abo%t
that one of the EE"omromises44 that was str%"k was to e'tend %nemloyment benefits for ,-
months.
7o my mind, as ! have said earlier, at a time of dee re"ession, at a time of terribly high
%nemloyment, it wo%ld be absol%tely wrong and immoral for %s to t%rn o%r ba"ks on the
millions of workers who are abo%t to lose their %nemloyment benefits. !f we do that, it is hard to
imagine what haens to those families, for many of whom this is their only so%r"e of in"ome.
0hat do they doC Do they lose their homesC Do they move o%t onto the streetsC 6ow do they
take "are of their kidsC ! do not know. 7here are arts of this "o%ntry where it is very hard to get
a $ob. E'tended %nemloyment is at the highest level ! think we have ever seen. (o% "annot t%rn
yo%r ba"ks on those families.
3%t ! get %set when ! hear that the Re%bli"an4s willingness to s%ort an e'tension of
%nemloyment benefits for ,- months is a ma$or "omromise. ! will tell yo%//! think a lot of the
Ameri"an eole do not know this//that for the ast 5= years//5= years, fo%r de"ades//%nder both
Demo"rati" and Re%bli"an administrations, whenever the %nemloyment rate has been above
>.: er"ent//and today we are at @.. er"ent %nemloyment//always, whether the Demo"rats
were in "ontrol, the Re%bli"ans were in "ontrol,
the President was Demo"rat, the President was Re%bli"an, what eole did was say8 0e have
to e'tend %nemloyment benefits. !t is kind of "ommon sense. !t is not artisan. So when yo%
have a rogram that has e'isted for 5= years in a biartisan effort, it so%nds to me that it is not
m%"h of a "omromise for the Re%bli"ans to say8 &F, we will do what Demo"rats and
Re%bli"ans have done for 5= years. 0hat a ma$or "omromise. !t is not a "omromise. !t is $%st
"ontin%ing e'isting biartisan oli"y, whi"h is sensible. !t is sensible from a moral erse"tive.
(o% "annot leave fellow Ameri"an families o%t high and dry.
!t is good e"onomi"s be"a%se what the e"onomists tell %s is the eole who will send that
money 1%i"kest are eole who re"eive %nemloyment "omensation be"a%se that is all they
have. 7hey are going to go o%t and b%y, and when they b%y from the neighborhood store, they
"reate $obs. So it is good e"onomi"s, and it is the moral thing to do.
3%t, frankly, in my view, this is not m%"h of a "omromise. 7his is $%st "ontin%ing fo%r
de"ades of e'isting oli"ies.
As ! said earlier, there are very "learly ositive arts of this agreement, no 1%estion abo%t it. !
think almost every Ameri"an will tell yo% that it wo%ld be totally abs%rd//! know there are some
who disagree, b%t ! think the vast ma$ority of Ameri"ans believe that in a time when the middle
"lass is "ollasing, when median family in"ome has gone down, when %nemloyment is high,
that it wo%ld be a real horror show if we did not e'tend the 3%sh ta' breaks for the middle "lass,
for @. er"ent of the Ameri"an eole//@. er"ent. 7hat is what we want.
0e "o%ld have "rafted it m%"h tighter, "o%ldn4t we haveC 0e "o%ld have said8 Nobody above
+,==,===, nobody above +,?=,===. 7hat is retty genero%s. 0e said a family earning % to
+:?=,=== sho%ld get an e'tension of these ta' breaks. 7hat is @. er"ent of the Ameri"an eole,
and that is not good eno%gh for o%r Re%bli"an friends. 7hey are fighting tooth and nail to make
s%re the to : er"ent//the millionaires and billionaires, the 2E&s who earn tens of millions a
year//they are fighting//it is as if they are at war. 7hey are so engaged to make s%re these
fab%lo%sly wealthy eole re"eive at least +, million, in some "ases. #or eole who are making
+, million a year, they are going to re"eive, on average, +,==,=== a year in ta' breaks. #or the
very, very wealthiest, it "o%ld be over +, million a year.
! say to the Presiding &ffi"er, ! know yo% $oined me $%st : days ago in saying that at a time
when senior "itiDens in this "o%ntry and disabled vets, for : years in a row, had not re"eived any
2&*A, that maybe it was the right thing to do//be"a%se we know that health "are "osts and
res"rition dr%g "osts are soaring//that maybe we sho%ld rovide a +:?= "he"k for those seniors
and disabled veterans one time//one time. ! "o%ld not get one Re%bli"an vote in s%ort of that
roosition. 0e won ?- to 5?, b%t aro%nd here it does not take ?= votes to win) it does not take a
ma$ority to win) it takes A= votes. 0e "o%ld not get one Re%bli"an vote. So here yo% have every
Re%bli"an voting against a +:?= "he"k for a disabled vet or a senior "itiDen who is living on
+,?,===, +,A,=== a year. 2annot afford it. 3%t we "an afford a million/dollar/a/year ta' break for
somebody who is worth h%ndreds of millions of dollars.
Now, somebody may %nderstand that rationale. ! don4t. ! really don4t. ! "an4t %nderstand it. !
"an4t %nderstand asking o%r kids and grand"hildren to ay more in ta'es, and the national debt
goes % in order to rovide ta' breaks for the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry.
So while there are some good rovisions in this bill//"ertainly e'tending the ta' breaks for @.
er"ent of o%r eole, for the very broad middle "lass) ! think if the Ameri"an eole demand it,
in o%r demo"ra"y we "an do better. ! don4t know if the Presiding &ffi"er or ! alone will be able to
"onvin"e some of o%r Re%bli"an friends or maybe some of o%r Demo"rati" friends to make this
into the kind of roosal we need for the working families of this "o%ntry, and for o%r "hildren,
for o%r ne't generation. ! don4t know if we "an do it inside this beltway.
As ! said earlier, ! think the way we win this battle, the way we defeat this roosal and "ome
ba"k with a m%"h better roosal is when millions of Ameri"ans start writing and e/mailing and
"alling their Senators, their 2ongress eole, and say8 0ait a se"ond. Are yo% n%tsC Do yo%
really think millionaires and billionaires need a h%ge ta' break at a time when this "o%ntry has a
+,-.> trillion national debtC 0hat are yo% smokingC 6ow "o%ld yo% for one se"ond think that
makes any sense whatsoeverC
! will tell the Presiding &ffi"er something. ! don4t know what my hones are doing today in my
offi"e right now. 3%t in the last - days we have gotten, ! am g%essing, ?,=== hone "alls and e/
mails, and abo%t @@ er"ent of them are in disagreement with this roosal.
! am looking at a "hart. 0e have gotten :,,== "alls that $%st "ame in today. ! don4t know what
kind of "alls other Members of the Senate are getting, b%t "ertainly those are the "alls ! am
getting.
7his oint "annot be made strongly eno%gh8 0hat o%r Re%bli"an friends want to do//and they
have been retty honest and % front abo%t it, ese"ially some of the e'treme, rightwing eole
who have been r%nning for offi"e and, in some "ases, have won//they have been honest eno%gh
to say they want to bring this "o%ntry ba"k to where we were in the ,@:=s. 7heir %ltimate aim is
the basi" reeal of almost all of the rovisions that have been assed in the last >= years to
rote"t working eole, the elderly, and "hildren. 7hey believe in a Darwinian/style so"iety in
whi"h yo% have the s%rvival of the fittest) that we are not a so"iety whi"h "omes together to take
"are of all of %s. (o% take "are of me in need and ! take "are of yo% and yo%r family) that we are
one eole. 7heir strategy is retty "lear. 7hey want to %ltimately destroy So"ial Se"%rity.
0hat we are beginning to hear more and more of is why don4t we raise the retirement age to A.
or A@. 7hat defi"it red%"tion "ommission, whi"h ! tho%ght was//the eole on that "ommission
were bad aointees by the President. 0e "o%ld have %t together some good e"onomists to say
how do we in a fair way//in a fair way//address the defi"it and national debt "risis. 7hat wasn4t
what that "ommission did. So these folks are talking abo%t ma$or "%ts in So"ial Se"%rity,
Medi"are, Medi"aid.
At a time when it is so hard for yo%ng eole to afford to go to "ollege, they want to raise the
"osts by asking o%r yo%ng eole while they are in "ollege to be a""r%ing the interest on their
loans.
So ! think if the President believes that if this agreement is assed, the Re%bli"ans are going
to "ome to the table and we are all going to live haily in the f%t%re, we are all going to work
together in a nonartisan way, ! think he is not %nderstanding the reality. 7hese eole are going
to "ome ba"k and they are going to "ome ba"k very aggressively for ma$or "%ts in So"ial
Se"%rity, Medi"are, Medi"aid, environmental rote"tion, ed%"ation, "hild"are, Pell grants, yo%
name it, be"a%se their belief is//! don4t 1%ite %nderstand it//that it is somehow good %bli" oli"y
to give ta' breaks for the wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry who, in many ways, have never had it
so good, while yo% "%t rograms that the middle "lass and working families of this "o%ntry
deserately deend %on.
So ! wo%ld s%ggest that this big debate we are having right now on whether we sho%ld a""et
the roosal agreed to by the President and the Re%bli"ans is $%st the beginning of what is
"oming down the ike. !f we s%rrender now on this iss%e, we "an e'e"t ne't month and the
following month another governmental "risis, another threat of a sh%tdown, %nless they get their
way. So ! think rather than asking the working families of this "o%ntry to have to "omromise,
instead of asking o%r kids to ay more in ta'es to bail o%t billionaires, maybe//! know this is a
radi"al idea//b%t maybe we sho%ld ask a handf%l of o%r Re%bli"an friends to $oin %s. Maybe a
handf%l of honest "onservatives over there who have been telling %s for years their great
"on"erns abo%t defi"it sending and a h%ge national debt, maybe they sho%ld be reared to vote
against the roosal whi"h raises the national debt and o%r defi"it by giving ta' breaks to some
of the ri"hest eole in the world.
I%ite frankly, ! don4t think ! am going to be able to "onvin"e them. ! don4t know that the
Presiding &ffi"er is going to be able to "onvin"e them. 3%t ! think their "onstit%ents "an
"onvin"e them. ! think the Ameri"an eole "an "onvin"e them. ! think, as ! said earlier, if the
Ameri"an eole stand %, we "an defeat this roosal and we "an "reate a m%"h better roosal.
2learly, we m%st e'tend ta' breaks for the middle "lass. 2learly, we m%st make s%re
%nemloyed workers "ontin%e to get the benefits they deserately need. 3%t e1%ally, "learly, we
m%st make s%re we are not raising the national debt whi"h, as s%re as ! am standing here, will
res%lt in "%ts in So"ial Se"%rity and Medi"are and Medi"aid and ed%"ation and other rograms if
this roosal is assed.
So this is not only an imortant roosal %nto itself8 +@== billion l%s even in 0ashington is
nothing to sneeDe at. 3%t it is an imortant roosal in terms of the dire"tion in whi"h o%r
"o%ntry goes into the f%t%re. !f we a""et this roosal of a :/year e'tension for the ri"hest
eole in Ameri"a, ! believe it will event%ally be"ome either a long/term e'tension or a
ermanent e'tension. !f we a""et the roosal that lowers the rates on the estate ta' whi"h
benefits only the to three/tenths of , er"ent//@@.> er"ent of Ameri"ans get nothing//b%t if we
give them what they want, ! believe over a eriod of years it will lead to the "omlete
abolishment and ending of the estate ta' whi"h will "ost %s over +, trillion over a ,=/year eriod.
So ! hoe this iss%e is not one $%st rogressives or moderates feel strongly abo%t. ! hoe honest
"onservatives, who in their heart of hearts believe this "o%ntry is serio%sly in danger when we
have %ns%stainable defi"its and a h%ge national debt, will tell their ele"ted offi"ials here in
0ashington not to ass a ie"e of legislation whi"h in"reases the national debt signifi"antly and,
in fa"t, will allow for the ermanent//over years, in my view//e'tension of these ta' breaks.
So that is what this debate is abo%t. !t is abo%t f%ndamentally whether we "ontin%e the ro"ess
by whi"h the ri"hest eole in this "o%ntry be"ome ri"her, at a time when we have the most
%ne1%al distrib%tion of in"ome and wealth of any ma$or "o%ntry on Earth.
As ! have said earlier, this is not an iss%e that is dis"%ssed//! don4t know//well, ! do know why.
!t is $%st not an iss%e that eole feel "omfortable talking abo%t be"a%se they don4t want to give
affront to their wealthy "amaign "ontrib%tors or take on the lobbyists who are o%t there. 3%t that
is the reality. 7hro%gho%t the entire world, the Bnited States has the most %ne1%al distrib%tion of
in"ome. 7he to , er"ent is earning :-.? er"ent of all in"ome. 7hat is more than the bottom ?=
er"ent. 7hat is not $%st immoral, it is bad e"onomi"s be"a%se if the middle "lass gets "r%shed
entirely, who is going to be b%ying the goods and servi"es rod%"ed in this e"onomyC
So this ie"e of legislation, as imortant as it is %nto itself//and it is very imortant//is e1%ally
imortant in terms of what it says abo%t where we are going into the f%t%re. Are we going to
rote"t the middle "lass and working families of o%r "o%ntryC Are we going to make s%re every
yo%ng erson in Ameri"a, regardless of in"ome, has the ability to go to "ollege, or are we going
to allow "ollege to be"ome %naffordable for h%ndreds and h%ndreds of tho%sands of bright,
yo%ng eole, or else for"e them to leave s"hool deely in debtC
Are we going to "reate a health "are system whi"h g%arantees health "are to all of o%r eole//
high/1%ality health "are//or are we going to "ontin%e a sit%ation where 5?,=== Ameri"ans die
ea"h year be"a%se they don4t have a""ess to a do"torC Are we going to invest in o%r energy
system so we break o%r deenden"e on foreign oilC 0e send abo%t +-?= billion a year
imorting oil from Sa%di Arabia and other foreign "o%ntries//almost +, billion a day//whi"h
sho%ld be %sed to make this "o%ntry energy indeendent, whi"h sho%ld be %sed to transform o%r
energy system away from fossil f%el into energy effi"ien"y and s%stainable energy, te"hnologies
s%"h as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.
3y the way, none of that has been addressed, as ! %nderstand it, in this roosal.
So my oint is not $%st that this roosal is a bad roosal as it stands before %s now, b%t it is
going to move %s in the f%t%re in a dire"tion that ! do not believe this "o%ntry sho%ld be going.
! mentioned earlier my own ersonal family4s history is the history of millions and millions of
Ameri"ans. My father, as it haened, "ame to this "o%ntry at the age of ,> witho%t a ni"kel in
his o"ket. 6e worked hard his whole life. 6e never made very m%"h money, b%t he and my
mom//my mom grad%ated high s"hool) she never went to "ollege//had the satisfa"tion, the very
signifi"ant satisfa"tion, of knowing their kids got a "ollege ed%"ation. My older brother *arry
went to law s"hool, and ! grad%ated from the Bniversity of 2hi"ago.
! think what is going on in this "o%ntry and why the an'iety level is so high is not $%st that
eole are worried abo%t themselves//arents worry more abo%t their kids than they do abo%t
themselves. 3%t what arents are sitting aro%nd and worrying abo%t now is they are saying8 0ill,
for the first time in the modern history of this "o%ntry, my kids have a lower standard of living
than their arentsC
0ill my kids earn less in"omeC 0ill my kids not have the ed%"ation ! haveC 0ill my kids not
have the oort%nity to travel and learn and grow as ! have doneC Are the best days of Ameri"a
behind %sC 7hat is really the 1%estion. ! don4t think that has to be the "ase.
3%t ! will tell my "olleag%es, as ! mentioned earlier, if we are going to "hange the national
riorities in this "o%ntry, if we are going to start devoting o%r energy and o%r attention to the
needs of working families and the middle "lass, we have to defeat this roosal and we have to
defeat similar tyes of roosals whi"h "ome down the ike. 0hen this "o%ntry has a +,-.>
trillion national debt, it is insane//nothing less than insane//to be talking abo%t h%ge ta' breaks
for eole who don4t need them. Again, as ! mentioned earlier, ironi"ally, we have a lot of these
millionaires o%t there who aarently love their "o%ntry more than some of the eole in this
2hamber.
(o% have some of the ri"hest eole in Ameri"a//3ill 9ates and all the good, "haritable work
he does, and 0arren 3%ffet and many others//who are saying8 ! am doing $%st fine. ! am a
billionaire or a m%ltimillionaire. ! don4t need yo%r ta' breaks. ! am worried abo%t the fa"t that we
have the highest rate of "hildhood overty) invest in o%r "hildren. ! am worried that o%r
infrastr%"t%re is "r%mbling) invest in o%r infrastr%"t%re. ! am worried that 5?,=== Ameri"ans are
dying this year who don4t have a""ess to health "are) invest in health "are. ! am worried abo%t
global warming) invest in transforming o%r energy system. 7hese are atrioti" Ameri"ans. 7hey
love their "o%ntry. 7hey are saying to %s8 0e don4t even want it.
So we are giving money to eole who, in some "ases, don4t even want it. ! do know there are
others o%t there who do want it. ! think if there is one iss%e that we as a 2ongress and a
government have to address, it is the e'traordinary level of greed in this "o%ntry. 0e have to
stand tall and draw a line in the sand and simly say8 Eno%gh is eno%gh. 6ow m%"h do yo%
wantC 6ow m%"h do yo% needC 6ow many ya"hts "an yo% ownC 6ow many homes "an yo%
haveC !sn4t it eno%gh that the to , er"ent now earns :-.? er"ent of the in"ome in this "o%ntryC
6ow m%"h more do they wantC Do they want -= er"ent, -? er"entC !sn4t it eno%gh that the to
, er"ent owns more wealth than the bottom @= er"entC 6ow m%"h more do they needC
! mentioned earlier, when ! talked abo%t the sit%ation that got %s into this horrendo%s
re"ession//and that is the "ollase of 0all Street//! talked abo%t what ! think most Ameri"ans
%nderstand very well) that is, the in"redible greed and re"klessness and dishonesty that e'ists on
0all Street. 0e m%st not allow o%rselves to en"o%rage and "ontin%e the kind of greed we have
seen in re"ent years. !t is an abomination that the eole who "a%sed this e"onomi" "risis//the
worst re"ession sin"e the 9reat Deression//that the eole on 0all Street who "a%sed it are now
earning more money than they did before we bailed them o%t.
Earlier today, ! was reading some e/mails that "ame to my offi"e from Vermonters who were
str%ggling to kee their heads above water. 7hey were terribly ainf%l and oignant stories abo%t
honest, good, de"ent eole who are now "hoosing whether they sho%ld %t gas in their "ar or
b%y the food or res"rition dr%gs they need. !t is not $%st a Vermont story) it is an Ameri"an
story. !t is a reality o%t there for tens of millions of Ameri"ans.
!n my view, we "an negotiate a m%"h better agreement than the one President &bama and the
Re%bli"an leadershi did. 7here are some good arts of that agreement, whi"h obvio%sly sho%ld
be retained and erhas even strengthened. 7hose in"l%de, of "o%rse, making s%re we e'tend
%nemloyment benefits to those who need it and, of "o%rse, that we e'tend ta' breaks for the
middle "lass. 7here are some very good other rovisions in there whi"h ! think are worthwhile.
! think if the Ameri"an eole stand and agree with those of %s who say no more ta' breaks for
the very wealthiest eole in this "o%ntry, we "an defeat this roosal, and we "an "ome % with
a m%"h better one that is fairer to the middle "lass of this "o%ntry and is fairer to o%r yo%ng
"hildren.
! do not want to see o%r yo%ng kids//my "hildren and grand"hildren//have a lower standard of
living than their arents. 7hat is not what Ameri"a is abo%t. 0hat ! think we have to do is defeat
this roosal. ! think we have to %rge o%r fellow Ameri"ans to stand and say no to ta' breaks for
those who don4t need it. ! think we have to work in a very serio%s way abo%t "reating the millions
and millions of good/aying $obs that this "o%ntry deserately needs. ! ersonally believe that is
a far more effe"tive aroa"h than giving the variety of b%siness ta'es that were in this roosal
at a time when "ororate Ameri"a is sitting on +: million of %n%sed "ash. 7hey have the money.
! think a m%"h better aroa"h, as ! said earlier, is investing in o%r "r%mbling infrastr%"t%re. !
think that makes %s healthier and stronger as a nation for the f%t%re and in the global e"onomy.
! think it "reates $obs 1%i"ker and in a more "ost/effe"tive way than these ta' "%ts. ! also think
it is high time the Ameri"an eole move//they want %s to move in an entirely new dire"tion in
terms of trade. ! am always amaDed how Re%bli"ans and Demo"rats alike//and ! seak as the
longest serving !ndeendent in 2ongress//"ome ele"tion time, have ads on television saying8 &h,
we have to do something abo%t o%tso%r"ing and abo%t o%r trade oli"y. 3%t somehow, the day
after the ele"tion, when "ororate Ameri"a "ontin%es to throw Ameri"an workers o%t on the
street and moves to 2hina, moves to other low/wage "o%ntries, that dis"%ssion "eases to e'ist
and that legislation never seems to aear.
So it seems to me we have to defeat this roosal, and that in defeating this, we are going to
tell the Ameri"an eole there are at least some of %s here who %nderstand what o%r $obs and
obligations are) that is, that we are s%osed to reresent them, the middle "lass of the "o%ntry,
and not $%st wealthy "amaign "ontrib%tors or bow to the interests of the lobbyists who are all
over this la"e.
0hen ! talked a moment ago abo%t the need to invest in o%r infrastr%"t%re as a way to "reate
$obs, being more "ost/effe"tive than some of these b%siness ta' breaks, ! am looking now at a
0all Street Go%rnal arti"le of De"ember @, :=,=. 6ere is the headline8 EE2omanies 2linging to
2ash) 2offers Swell to ?,/year 6igh as 2a%tio%s #irms P%t &ff !nvesting in 9rowth.44
7hat is a story by G%stin *ahart. 6ere is the story. !t makes the oint ! have been trying to
e'ress8
2ororate Ameri"a4s "ash ile has hit its highest level in half a "ent%ry. Rather than o%ring
their money into b%ilding lants or hiring workers, nonfinan"ial "omanies in the Bnited States
are sitting on +,.@- trillion in "ash//
! said +: trillion, b%t it is +,.@- trillion in "ash.
//and other li1%id assets at the end of Setember, % from +,.. trillion at the end of G%ne, the
#ederal Reserve said 7h%rsday. 2ash a""o%nted for >.5 er"ent of the "omanies4 total assets, the
largest share sin"e ,@?@. 7he "ash b%ild% shows the dee "a%tion many "omanies feel abo%t
investing in e'ansion, while the e"onomi" re"overy remains ainf%lly slow, and high
%nemloyment and battered ho%sehold finan"es "ontin%e to limit "ons%mers4 ability to send.
0hat have we been talking abo%tC 7he 0all Street Go%rnal is not my favorite aer, b%t they
are saying that the way yo% are going to get the e"onomy moving again is to %t money in the
hands of working eole, who will then go o%t and b%y the goods and servi"es these "omanies
rod%"e. ! have my do%bts abo%t whether these ta' rates will, in fa"t, have the desired res%lt.
As ! said earlier, and will say again, ! think the most effe"tive way to "reate $obs, and the most
imortant way, is to reb%ild o%r "r%mbling infrastr%"t%re. 7hat is o%r roads, bridges, rail system,
water system, wastewater lants, o%r dams, levees, and the need to imrove broadband to make
s%re every "omm%nity in Ameri"a has a""ess to good/1%ality broadband and a""ess to "ell hone
servi"e. Bnfort%nately, as best as ! "an %nderstand, there has not been one ni"kel aroriated in
this roosed legislation that wo%ld go to infrastr%"t%re imrovements.
! think this roosal sho%ld be defeated be"a%se it is not a strong roosal for the middle "lass.
!t is a roosal that gives m%"h too m%"h to eole who don4t need it, and it is a roosal that !
think sets the stage for similar/tye roosals down the ike. ! aologiDe to anybody who has
been listening for any length of time. ! know ! have been, to say the least, a bit reetitio%s.
3%t the "on"ern is that when the President and some of my Re%bli"an "olleag%es talk abo%t
some of these ta' breaks being temorary, we are $%st going to e'tend them for : years, talking
abo%t this ayroll ta' holiday being $%st , year, ! have been in 0ashington long eno%gh to know
that assertion doesn4t fly) that what is temorary today is long/term tomorrow and is ermanent
the ne't day. ! fear very m%"h that this roosal is bad on the s%rfa"e. ! fear very m%"h that this
roosal will lead %s down a very bad tra"k in terms of more tri"kle/down e"onomi"s, whi"h
benefits the tri"klers and not the ordinary Ameri"ans. ! think it is a roosal that sho%ld be
defeated.
7he oint ! wish to make is that is not $%st my oint of view. ! think it sho%ld be defeated. !
think we "an do a lot better. ! have to tell yo% the "alls that are "oming into my offi"e are//here is
what we got today8 :,,:: "alls oose the deal, and ! think ,== "alls are s%ortive of the deal.
(o% "an do the arithmeti" on it. At least @? er"ent of the "alls ! got today are saying this is not a
good deal. 0e "an do better.
! know that in the last - or 5 days we have gotten robably A,=== or >,=== "alls that say this.
7his is not $%st Vermont//many of those "alls "ome from o%t of State, by the way. 3%t ! think
that is tr%e all over this "o%ntry.
*et me "on"l%de. !t has been a long day. *et me simly say ! believe the roosal that was
develoed by the President and the Re%bli"ans is nowhere near as good as we "an a"hieve. !
don4t know that we are able o%rselves to get the handf%l of Re%bli"ans we need to say no to this
agreement. ! do believe that if the Ameri"an eole stand//by the way, it may not $%st be
Re%bli"ans. 7here may be some Demo"rats as well. !f the Ameri"an eole stand and say8 0e
"an do better than this) we don4t need to drive % the national debt by giving ta' breaks to
millionaires and billionaires, that if the Ameri"an eole are reared to stand and we are
reared to follow them, ! think we "an defeat this roosal and "ome % with a better roosal
whi"h refle"ts the needs of working/"lass and middle/"lass families of o%r "o%ntry and, to me,
most imortantly, the "hildren of o%r "o%ntry.
0ith that, ! yield the floor and ! s%ggest the absen"e of a 1%or%m.

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